Nicola Sturgeon attributes missing Covid vaccination letters to 'glitches'

Nicola Sturgeon has said issues with the delivery of vaccination appointment letters which led to thousands of missed jags are an example of “glitches” involved in such a significant logistical process.

Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 2:58 pm
Updated Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 3:38 pm

The First Minister was speaking on the anniversary of the day Scotland entered lockdown for the first time.

Ruth Davidson, the Holyrood leader of the Scottish Conservatives, highlighted reports from The Scottish Sun that showed one in seven appointments were missed last week with many due to issues with vaccination appointment letters.

She asked the First Minister to clarify whether the issue was localised or nationwide and whether people have been contacted again for vaccine appointments.

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First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, arrives ahead of a Covid briefing at the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood, Edinburgh.

Responding, Ms Sturgeon said she had been given an assurance the issue had been resolved.

She said: "When we implement a programme at this scale and at this speed it is inevitable unfortunately that there will be glitches and things that do not go as well as we want.

"That is true of the scheduling, printing and posting of letters associated with the programme.

"We are aware of issues with the delivery of appointment letters in the early part of last week.

"We are still trying to with National Services Scotland and Royal Mail to understand the detail of that but I have been given an assurance that the issue has been resolved.

"I want to apologise to anybody affected, there were around 60,000 appointments last week that were not attended.

"We are closely monitoring day to day uptake versus projections and trying to make sure we understand the reasons why people may not be attending for appointment.”

During her Covid-19 update, Ms Sturgeon announced that the Western Isles would be moving down from level four to level three from 6pm tomorrow and that communal worship of up to 50 people would restart on Friday.

She added that after the Holyrood election, if the SNP returned to the Scottish Parliament in government, a statutory public inquiry into the handling of Covid-19 would be a priority.

New Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar highlighted rising cases in Europe and questioned the First Minister on whether the government’s test and protect system would prevent another lockdown.

He said: “While there is optimism and hope again, there is a creeping rise in cases in some parts of Scotland, and we must avoid a potential third wave.

"Our test and protect system will be absolutely crucial to that, so does the First Minister have confidence that test and protect finally is robust enough to avoid another lockdown.”

In reply, the First Minister said that test and protect has been “robust” since it was established and that it had played a “vital role” in minimising the spread of the virus.

She added: “Test and protect is a vital part of our defence and our response but as I have said all along it is not our first line of defence against the virus.

"The first line of defence against the virus is still all of us in the precautions and the mitigations we are being asked to take and increasingly of course, the most important line of defence against the virus is the vaccination programme.”

Ms Sturgeon also confirmed that seven people had died from Covid-19 in the last 24 hours, with 495 new cases.

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