Covid Edinburgh: MSP calls for explanation of booster jags chaos after minister admits there are 'issues'
Edinburgh Southern Labour MSP Daniel Johnson is calling for a full explanation of what has gone wrong with Edinburgh’s Covid booster jag appointment system after Deputy First Minister John Swinney acknowledged there were “issues” and talks were taking place with NHS Lothian.
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Following Mr Swinney’s comments in the Scottish Parliament, Mr Johnson said he had written to him asking what the issues were and what the Scottish Government was doing about them.
He said: “We now have official confirmation there is a problem in Lothian and the government must now put a plan in place to put that right.”
There have been numerous reports in recent weeks of people struggling to get appointments for their booster vaccinations, people without cars being sent to vaccination centres miles from their home and long queues for jags.
Earlier this week the Evening News told how an 86-year-old woman waited for 25 minutes in the wind and rain with others outside a locked health centre because their appointments had been switched from Saturday to Sunday without them being told.
And Mr Johnson’s own mother and mother-in-law were given appointments at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital and turned up only to be turned away because it was only vaccinating NHS staff.
South of Scotland Tory MSP Craig Hoy used First Minister’s Questions on Thursday to raise concerns about jags appointments with Mr Swinney, who was standing in for Nicola Sturgeon.
Mr Hoy cited the case of an East Lothian constituent, Norma from Dirleton, who got her booster jag some time ago but this week received a fourth letter calling her for a jag and was unable to cancel the appointment, while her 88-year-old neighbour had received no booster vaccination correspondence and could not get through on the appointment line. When she tried to get a jag at a vaccination bus in Gullane she had to leave because of the length of the queues.
In response, Mr Swinney said the programme in general had been rolled out very effectively.
“However, there have been a number of issues in connection with the appointments system in NHS Lothian, with which we are familiar.
“We are in discussion with NHS Lothian. Earlier this week, our officials met its chief executive.”
He said he expected the issues to be resolved very shortly.
Mr Johnson said: "On the one hand it is good we now have confirmation of the issues people are experiencing in Edinburgh and across the Lothians but the government has to make clear what those issues are and what it is doing to do about them.”
In his letter to Mr Swinney, he says: “Given the numerous constituents that have contacted me regarding appointment problems I would appreciate if you could outline exactly what the issues are with NHS Lothian and whether they could have been targeted earlier.
“Following the meeting, what steps have the health board been asked to take by the Scottish Government and what extra resources, if any, will be provided to the health board
to ensure that the appointment system problems are resolved?”