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Caithness over-75s receive spring booster appointments for Inverness and Tain

By Alan Hendry

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NHS Highland chief executive Pam Dudek told CHAT that she would sort out the situation. Picture: Gary Anthony
NHS Highland chief executive Pam Dudek told CHAT that she would sort out the situation. Picture: Gary Anthony

Some elderly people in Caithness have been receiving Covid spring booster appointments for locations as far away as Inverness and Easter Ross, it has emerged.

Caithness Health Action Team said it was unacceptable to expect older people to make such long journeys.

NHS Highland apologised after acknowledging there had been "scheduling and appointing issues" with the national vaccination programme.

Spring booster doses are being offered to "high-risk" groups including adults aged 75 and over.

CHAT chairman Ron Gunn said: "We have had a number of Caithness folk contact us very upset at receiving their booster vaccination invite to attend Tain or Inverness.

"It is unacceptable to expect these people to travel that kind of distance to get their injections.

"We contacted NHS Highland chief executive Pam Dudek, who agreed that this was unacceptable and thanked CHAT for bringing it to her attention. Mrs Dudek said that she would sort the situation out the next day.

"We understand that the appointments were organised by NHS Scotland and this is another example of centralisation not working."

A spokesperson for NHS Highland said: "Unfortunately the Covid vaccination programme has seen some scheduling and appointing issues with the national system which has resulted in people being asked to attend for their Covid vaccination outwith their local area.

"This has affected residents in Highland and Argyll and Bute.

"We are very sorry about this. Our teams are working with the national team to ensure, as best as we can, that this doesn’t happen again.

"Messages have been placed on our website and issued on our social media advising people that if they have been asked to attend an appointment outwith their local area they can contact the NHS Highland vaccination hub who will assist in rescheduling their appointment."

Meanwhile, NHS Highland has added a drop-in clinic in Lybster for April 14 from 2pm. The spokesperson added: "People have been lettered with appointments but we're aware this group has been affected with the issues nationally so the drop-in is from 2pm to 6pm."

The vaccination hub can be contacted on 08000 320 339 and is open Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 4.30pm and Saturday, 10am to 2pm.

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