HANDING over Covid booster vaccine delivery to Argyll and Bute's health and social care partnership has led to problems with the programme, a leading health chief has admitted.

Dr Tim Allison, NHS Highland’s director of public health and policy, reiterated the recent apology of the partnership’s (HSCP) interim chief officer Fiona Davies for “a considerable number of errors” in the area during the vaccine rollout.

The HSCP has been in charge of the rollout for the booster jabs, with GP practices having overseen the process for the initial two doses.

Speaking at a meeting of the HSCP’s integration joint board on Wednesday, November 24, Dr Allison said that the situation had improved.

Ms Davies had previously said in a report: “Whilst a huge effort has been under way to ensure that all our population required to have Covid-19 vaccinations through the autumn, a considerable number of errors in communication of available clinics and appointment letters have occurred.

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"I would like to apologise for the uncertainty, anxiety and inconvenience that this has caused.”

NHS Highland non-executive board member Graham Bell said: “I appreciate the frankness about some of the problems.

“My understanding is that difficulties with the booster rollout are actually about administration and notifications. Can you tell us why it has been such a difficult administrative task, and what is being done about it?”

Dr Allison responded: “There are several reasons. One is the move from GP administration to board administration, which is part of the national direction of travel.

“The whole of NHS Highland is behind the curve in that. The arrangements we have had are for vaccines to be delivered in general practice through board clinics on the mainland and islands.

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“Things do also happen fairly quickly and get changed fairly quickly, and it can be difficult to accommodate some of those changes.

“By and large, it is really adapting to new systems and getting a whole new system set up. I would want to reiterate Fiona’s apology.

“Clearly the situation is not good, but it has improved and once people get to clinics, it is not universally great, but by and large things are OK.

"Many of the problems are with the scheduling of appointments.”

Ms Davies then said: “What became obvious weeks ago was that appointing people by letter was not having an effect. Letters were not getting to people promptly enough.

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“So we tried to bring in a system of phone appointments in the local area, and that seems to have improved communication on who needs to go to which clinics.

“That is quite a challenge for us to organise at short notice, and to have the number of people making calls so we need to learn how to build in the capacity for this.”

Argyll and Bute Council leader and Islay resident Councillor Robin Currie said: “I would go as far as to say that what has happened here on Islay has been excellent.

“I have had two jabs and a booster and have simply had a phone call from my GP for an appointment and turned up.

"There has been no messing about, and my thanks go to all concerned.”

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