MSP demands urgent answers after late letters mean more missed vaccine appointments

MSP Daniel Johnson has demanded answers after Lothians residents missed vaccine appointments on Monday due to continued letter delays.

Nicola Sturgeon has said the Scottish Government is investigating the issue
Nicola Sturgeon has said the Scottish Government is investigating the issue

A number of vaccinations were unable to take place at the start of the week, despite NHS Lothian stating last Friday that the problem with missing appointment letters would be resolved by then.

An apology was issued yesterday and signed by Royal Mail, NHS Lothian, National Delivery Programme and NHS National Services Scotland.

It comes after some vaccination centres in the Lothians saw “literally no patients” on Monday and Tuesday due to the communications delay, with staff told to try and find members of the public or police officers to take the leftover jags.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said the Scottish Government is investigating whether the issue is with Royal Mail or with the National Services Scotland centralised database.

Daniel Johnson Labour MSP for Edinburgh South said: “We need urgent clarity on what has gone wrong and how it will be fixed. Today the issue continued with people finding out they had missed appointments. Clearly this is a much bigger issue though it has been inferred it is a discrete, one-off. We can see the ongoing impacts. I’m very confused, last week we were told by the health board the letters hadn’t gone out and then this week it's a problem with delivery. It doesn’t square.”

“It’s difficult to assess the scale of it because we don't know how many people have missed their appointments. Apologies don’t help fix the problem. Its not good enough. We need clear answers on how many have missed appointments and when will they get their vaccine. There’s no consistency, some have been offered an alternative quickly and others told to wait weeks or months.”

A number of patients told the Evening News they received unscheduled vaccines at centres in the capital, after being told by helpline advisers they were not on the database.

Mrs McDowell, 71, said: “I’m in a priority group. When I hadn’t heard I called helpline several times and was told I wasn’t on the system. The patient support team said I had slipped through the cracks. I was so stressed. I turned up at EICC and got a vaccine. Now I’ve had the first dose will have to go through the same nightmare when I’m due the second one? It’s a shambles. The one thing that can help us get out of this pandemic is being messed up.”

NHS National Services Scotland said: “A number of COVID-19 vaccination appointments were unable to take place on Monday, March 15 in the Lothian area because of the late arrival of appointment letters. The national programme would like to apologise to any resident who missed an appointment and for any inconvenience caused.

“Although the vast majority of vaccination appointments run smoothly, the national delivery partners met today to build a better understanding of what happened on this occasion. We are working closely together to ensure we give people the advance notice they need for vital vaccination appointments.”

"Anyone who missed an appointment will automatically receive another invitation for a new appointment in the week commencing Monday March 22.”

NHS Lothian urged people not to turn up at one of the vaccination centres or clinics without a prebooked appointment.

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