Helensburgh & Lomond’s MSP, Jackie Baillie, blasted NHS Highland chiefs at a meeting on Friday 29 October 2021 for the shambolic roll out of the covid booster vaccination programme in the area.
GPs are already well underway with the flu vaccination programme but the covid booster programme is being separately delivered by the Argyll & Bute Health & Social Care Partnership. During the initial COVID-19 vaccination programme, GPs delivered it locally to all their patients very quickly. The change is as a result of the GP contract agreed by the Scottish Government which will see GPs cease to do flu and covid vaccinations next year transferring responsibility for delivery to the NHS.
Jackie has been told that the plan for the Helensburgh & Lomond covid booster vaccinations was in fact prepared over a month ago, but none of that information was shared with the public, leaving people worried about when they would receive their booster.
In the case of the Lomond area, drop in surgeries are being provided in the Three Villages Hall in Arrochar, Cove Burgh Hall and the Gibson Hall in Garelochhead. In Helensburgh they will be provided at the Victoria Infirmary but the main centre will be at Helensburgh Parish Church.
Disappointingly letters for the first surgeries in the Lomond area have not been sent out, so these will operate as drop in centres.
Jackie has insisted that letters advising people of arrangements for Helensburgh should offer appointment times so that the centres are not overwhelmed and people are not having to wait in lengthy queues. Unfortunately it would appear that some letters for Helensburgh have been addressed to Sutherland, hundreds of miles away and Jackie has asked that this be urgently rectified.
There will also be vaccination sessions for those seeking a third primary dose of the vaccine as they are immunosuppressed.
Jackie raised her concern about the lack of communication, with local people being left in the dark about arrangements, especially as many older people had received their vaccinations longer than six months ago, so their protection from covid was starting to wane.
Jackie Baillie MSP said:
“The roll out in Helensburgh & Lomond has been nothing short of shambolic. Local people are rightly upset about not receiving their covid booster vaccination timeously.
They will be all the more astonished to learn that a plan was actually prepared a month ago but senior health bosses have simply failed to communicate this.
“To add insult to injury, the Health & Social Care Partnership haven’t sent letters to those living in the Lomond area and letters for Helensburgh were addressed to Sutherland. This comedy of errors is unforgiveable given the serious consequences for older people of contracting covid.
“I am angry and disappointed that it has taken so long to get this back on track, but I am now hopeful people will receive information about their covid booster.
“The vaccinators deserve our praise for the work that they do. They are not to blame for this shambles. Responsibility for that lies squarely at the door of senior managers at both the Health & Social Care Partnership and NHS Highland.
“The Scottish Government need to get a grip of what’s happening in our local area so that older people are not put at risk.”