NHS apologises after elderly and vulnerable wait hours for Covid booster jabs in Falkirk

NHS Forth Valley has issued an apology to those who experienced lengthy delays at a vaccine clinic on Monday.

Tuesday, 28th September 2021, 2:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th September 2021, 2:40 pm
Patients were asked to wait for up to two and a half hours for their booster vaccines, despite being given an appointment time. Pic: Michael Gillen.

A number of people who had travelled to Falkirk Community Hospital for their Covid-19 booster vaccination contacted the Falkirk Herald after being told they would have to wait hours for their jag – despite being given an appointment time.

Many of those caught up in the delays were elderly and vulnerable, and reported being asked to wait a significant length of time without a seat.

A third booster dose of the Covid-19 vaccine is currently being offered to those with a severely weakened immune system, adults aged 70 and over, and those who are on the highest risk list.

The delays occurred on Monday at vaccination clinics in Falkirk Community Hospital. Pic: Michael Gillen.

In many cases it is being administered at the same time as the annual flu jag.

One gentleman who attended on Monday said: “People turning up for Covid booster jabs were being asked to wait two and a half hours, even with an appointment.

"Most people there were elderly and many, as we did, left without the jab.

"It’s a shocking state of affairs asking the elderly and vulnerable to wait this long.”

Another man said his dad was “expected to queue for an hour and a half without a seat”, adding “he’s there due to high risk underlying health conditions and being treated like cattle. Shocking.”

One Bo’ness woman said she had turned up at 10.40am for a 10.54am appointment and she eventually got her booster and flu jag after noon – and only when she said she had to go as she had someone at home who she acted as carer for.

She said when she arrived the queue stretched right back along the corridor: “There were no seats and as I struggle to walk asked to see the nurse in charge.

"She said that she would jump me up the queue, but I pointed out that everyone who was there was either elderly or vulnerable and it wasn’t good enough.

“At the lifts there was no social distancing and they were putting more than one person in the lift at a time.

“When we reached the floor where they were doing the vaccines, there was another queue of about 60 or 70 people.

"One woman had to be rushed to the top of the queue when her oxygen supply started to run out.

"It was terrible.

"If I'd been a cow going to the abattoir I'd have been treated with more dignity!

"When I got home I phoned NHS Forth Valley complaints line and was told that it wasn’t them I needed to speak to but the vaccine team.

"Someone would phone me back, but it may be several days.”

The local health board has issued an apology and said the issues have been resolved.

An NHS Forth Valley spokesperson said: “We would like to apologise to anyone who experienced delays at the vaccination clinic which took place on Monday, September 27 at Falkirk Community Hospital.

"This was due to a number of initial operational issues which were quickly resolved, and additional seating has also been put in place.

“Subsequent clinics at this venue have been operating well although we will continue to closely monitor all of our vaccination clinics to identify and address any local issues.”

Central Scotland MSP Stephen Kerr will be writing to NHS Forth Valley’s chief executive, Cathie Cowan, to raise the issue after being contacted by constituents about their concerns over the vaccination clinic.

He said: “As we roll out the first booster coronavirus vaccines secured by our UK Government contracts, the places of vaccination must stick to the strict safety guidelines we set out.

"I am concerned to hear reports of lengthy waits and lack of social distancing.

“As well as writing to NHS Forth Valley who I know work hard to provide the best service, I will question the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Humza Yousaf, about what he’s doing to ensure this isn’t happening across Scotland.”

Thank you for reading this article on our free-to-read website. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

Please consider purchasing a subscription to our print newspaper to help fund our trusted, fact-checked journalism.