Elderly queue for Covid vaccine after appointments overbooked

NHS chief apologizes after pensioners are left standing in cold waiting for their vaccinations.

Elderly queue for Covid vaccine after appointments overbooked Getty Images
Appointments for the health board's Covid-19 community vaccination clinics were overbooked.

NHS Fife’s chief executive has apologized after elderly patients waiting for their coronavirus vaccines were left standing in the cold in “significant queues”.

Appointments for the health board’s Covid-19 community vaccination clinics were overbooked and images showing long lines building up outside vaccine venues circulated on social media.

NHS Fife said the issue only became known today, Monday, February 8, and has led to “unacceptable queuing at some venues”.

The affected clinics are the East Neuk Centre in Anstruther, Lochgelly Centre, Randolph Wemyss Memorial Hospital in Buckhaven, Rothes Halls in Glenrothes, and Templehall Community Centre in Kirkcaldy.

Carol Potter, NHS Fife chief executive, said: “I want to offer our most sincere apologies to those who had to wait in significant queues at some of our community vaccination clinics today.

“This was entirely unacceptable and we are working with our colleagues in NHS National Services Scotland to understand how this scheduling error occurred and ensure that it does not happen again.”

Patients in Fife are allocated appointments for vaccination using the National Scheduling Tool.

Work is underway to rapidly expand capacity and staffing at the affected venues from tomorrow, Tuesday, February 9, to cover the appointments that have been overbooked.

People aged 50 or over are most at risk of dying from coronavirus, and the risk increases with age, so the vaccine is being rolled out to them as a priority.

All those 75-years-old and over are first in line, after care home residents, their carers and frontline health and social care workers.

At the Templehall Community Centre in Kirkcaldy, where capacity cannot be expanded, some patients will be offered a shuttle bus to have their vaccination at Victoria Hospital, and then returned to the community centre or they can reschedule their appointment.

NHS Fife said patients should still attend to their designated venue at the time and date on their letter.

The health board assured members of the public that supply of the vaccine remains good and the overbooked appointments can be dealt with using existing stock.

Because of damage control surrounding the coronavirus vaccine overbooking, rollout of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination programme in Fife has been postponed for the rest of the week.

Ms Potter said: “We know that local people are incredibly keen to get vaccinated as quickly as possible against Covid-19 and we have prioritized prompt actions to expand the capacity and quicken the flow of patients through our clinics.

“Patients who could not be vaccinated today will be contacted directly and will be offered a rescheduled appointment as quickly as possible. 

“The residents of Fife have shown a great deal of patience and understanding today, and we want to thank local people for their incredible support they have offered us over recent months.

“I also want to thank our vaccination teams for the additional effort required this week to ensure that we minimize any disruption to our vaccination programme.”