An update on flu vaccinations
- 27 October 2020
I would like to update you on what I am doing to try to resolve the ongoing concerns around the provision of the adult flu vaccine by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHS GGC).
On behalf of several constituents, I corresponded with the Chief Executive of NHS GGC, Jane Grant, on 14 October and 21 October raising various urgent issues, as well as with Jeane Freeman MSP, the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport. At the end of last week, the Cabinet Secretary spoke out on the issue, saying the issues at NHS GGC were unacceptable and that she had instructed immediate action to properly prioritise vaccine recipients.
On 26 October, I received a written response from NHS GGC (You can download this below). They confirm that they are increasing capacity at vaccination centres so that older and more vulnerable patients can receive their vaccine sooner. They have given assurances that those in the ‘first cohort,’ that is:
“pre-school age children, primary school age children, women who are pregnant, under 65 year olds who are ‘at risk’, carers, and anyone aged over 65”
will receive their appointment letter by the end of October and their vaccination by the end of November. I also met with the Chief Executive of NHS GGC, Jane Grant, later that day to continue to pursue various issues.
Meeting with the Chief Executive of NHS GGC, Jane Grant
On the afternoon of 26 October, along with parliamentary colleagues, I met with the Chief Executive of NHS GGC. I wanted to update you on that meeting. Firstly NHS GGC accept that both communications and arrangements for administering the flu vaccine could and should have been better and that these must improve in the future. They are actively pursuing this. I have provided a brief update below which I hope you find helpful. You can also download their statment where they offer an applogy (You can download this below).
Everyone will get their appointment ahead of ‘flu season’
NHS GGC have accepted they could and should have done more. Letters being sent out to make an offer of appointment were sent out in a phased process. These should have prioritised our oldest and they did not. This is now being mitigated with additional appointments and capacity being made available to ensure that these vaccinations can be administered sooner. Crucially, however, flu season starts around the beginning of December and everyone should receive their appointment before flu season.
What to do if you have an unsuitable / missed appointments or are still awaiting an appointment letter
NHS GGC acknowledge pressures on the flu line and have put in place additional capacity. If you cannot rearrange an appointment there and then, you can leave a message and the flu line will offer a call back to arrange.
Why have locations for vaccination changed this year?
The ‘cohort’ described above, including people over 65, were directed away from their own GPs’ surgeries for the vaccine. I have been informed that this was to allow for social distancing to occur at the venues. With 201,000 over 65’s and 180,000 18-64’s with underlying health conditions it was not considered possible to arrange all of these at GPs’ surgeries safely and with essential social distancing. Whilst NHS GGC outlined why over 65’s were switched to new hubs, I have asked that in future greater consideration be given by NHS GGC to ensuring more localised access to the flu vaccine for over 65’s. That said, NHS GGC are now looking at additional use of GP surgeries and pharmacies where possible. It may be worth noting that pharmacies have been mainly used for vaccinating social care staff.
I hope that this information will go some way to answering your questions and putting your mind at ease. I know that some constituents wish to raise questions or complaints about the management of the vaccine by NHS GGC this year – and I share many of those concerns – but the first priority must always be to ensure that the vaccine reaches those who need it most. I am hopeful that the response my parliamentary colleagues and I have secured from NHS GGC means that this will now happen.
I will continue to monitor the situation with the flu vaccine and I am happy to continue to raise issues and seek solutions to them on your behalf. If there are specific problems with your own appointment and you would like me to make further representations for you on this issue, please do not hesitate to contact my staff and I will always do what I can to help.
I hope that you and those around you are keeping safe and well.