Vaccine letters delay apology

Tuesday March 16th 2021

Covid Vaccine

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

The Scottish Government has apologised after a delay to vaccine letters saw some residents in the Lothians miss their coronavirus vaccination appointments.

Claims of postal delays led to a campaign across social media last week urging anyone who was due an appointment to contact the NHS helpline.

However, at the time the Scottish Government insisted that letters were being delivered on time and delays between appointments being made and letters arriving were normal.

Yesterday, during a press briefing, Dr Gregor Smith, Scotland’s chief medical officer, confirmed that there had indeed been an issue with appointment letters for people in the 60-64 age range being delivered on time across NHS Lothian.

And a spokesperson for the Scottish Government issued an apology to anyone who received their letter too late to make their appointment.

Facebook saw several posts warning people who had not received a letter to contact NHS Lothian to check shared hundreds of times last week.

Some people reported receiving letters just days before their appointment was due, while others claimed their letter arrived after the booking.

On Friday the Scottish Government said that while it was aware of an increase in ‘proactive’ calls to the freephone helpline which was shared on social media, there was not an issue, adding: “There can, on occasion, be a slight lag between an appointment scheduled and an appointment letter arriving on someone’s doorstep.”

But following Dr Smith’s comments on Monday, the Scottish Government confirmed that there had indeed been issues.

A spokesperson said:

“The Scottish Government is investigating with NHS National Services Scotland and Royal Mail to understand why there have been delays to appointment letters being received by people aged 60-64 in the NHS Lothian region.

“We would like to apologise to anyone who has missed their appointment as a result and for the inconvenience this may have caused them.

“We have been clear with the board that we expect anyone who has been affected by this issue to be rebooked swiftly.

“We are also working with the national vaccination helpline so that people within the NHS Lothian area can get through to speak to someone to help them get their vaccination, if they were affected by this delay.”

It is understood people due to be vaccinated yesterday (Monday) who missed their appointment will automatically have a new one booked, with letters sent out next week.

Anyone in the 60-64 year age group who missed an appointment on an earlier date can rearrange it by calling the helpline on 0800 030 8013.

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