NHS Fife apology over 'entirely unacceptable' queues at COVID vaccine centres

Health bosses in Fife have apologised to elderly people left standing in the freezing cold for over an hour after huge delays hit a hit number of COVID vaccine centres yesterday.

By Allan Crow
Tuesday, 9th February 2021, 8:02 am

There were reports of problems across the region, with Kirkcaldy’s Templehall Community Centre one of the worst affected.

Amid reports of double bookings, there were also serious delays at East Neuk Centre, Anstruther; Lochgelly Centre; Randolph Wemyss Memorial Hospital, Buckhaven; and Rothes Halls, Glenrothes.

NHS Fife has apologised and said the lengthy waits were “entirely unacceptable” - and it has put in place an immediate action plan to ensure there is no repeat.

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The long queue at Templehall's vaccine centre in Kirkcaldy where elderly people had to queue for over an hour in freezing temperatures to get their COVID vaccine (Pic: Karen Anderson)

Work is underway to rapidly expand capacity and staffing at the venues from today to cover appointments that were overbooked.

And at Templehall, where the building cannot take any more, NHS Fife has arranged a shuttle bus to take some people to nearby Victoria Hospital to get their vaccinations.

Carol Potter, 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.

“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.

“We know that local people are incredibly keen to get vaccinated as quickly as possible against COVID-19 and we have prioritised 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.”

She said people across Fife had shown “a great deal of patience and understanding” while facing lengthy waits, and she also thanked the vaccination teams for their efforts to minimise a situation beyond their control.

NHS Fife uses the National Scheduling Tool to book all appointments, and the issue of overbooking only became known yesterday.

It said it is working with NHS National Services Scotland, which operates the system, to understand how this problem occurred and take the necessary steps to prevent it from happening again in future.

To tackle specific problems at Templehall - one of the biggest vaccination centres - shuttle buses will be deployed to ease the delays.

The venue has no physical capacity to be expanded, some some patients will have the option of being to, and from, the Vic t get their vaccination - or they can opt to re-schedule their appointment.

NHS Fife said people should not go direct to the hospital. They are asked to attend the clinic in Templehall on the date and time given, and then transport will be laid on.

Patients who didn’t get their vaccination yesterday because of the chaos will also be offered a rescheduled appointment as soon as possible.

They will be called directly by NHS Fife staff. The call will come from an 0800 number and staff will be able to verify themselves by confirming the person’s details, along with the time and date of their original appointment.

To enable vaccination teams to staff the expanded community clinics, it will be necessary to postpone the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination programme in Fife for the remainder of this week.

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