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Caithness woman questions 'last-minute' call for Covid spring booster vaccine

By Alan Hendry

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Spring booster doses of Covid vaccine are being offered to adults aged 75 and over.
Spring booster doses of Covid vaccine are being offered to adults aged 75 and over.

A Caithness woman has questioned why medical practice staff are having to phone patients "at the last minute" inviting them to attend drop-in clinics for Covid spring booster jabs.

Brenda Herrick (80), of Castletown, received a call shortly before 11am on Friday advising that a vaccine session would be taking place in Thurso the following day for patients who, like her, are registered with the Canisbay and Castletown GP practice.

The clinic was scheduled to run from 10am to 5.30pm in the town's Royal British Legion club.

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

Mrs Herrick is without a car for the time being and she says the bus times are not suitable.

She asked: “Are they seriously having to phone round all their patients? What's the matter with the NHS?

“They shouldn't be leaving it to individual practices to phone their patients and tell them at the last minute that there's a drop-in clinic. They should have advertised it in the paper.

“It's completely wrong that it hasn't been advertised, and they shouldn't be relying on people in the practice who are too busy already to have to phone round patients to tell them. It's bonkers.

“Even if you've got your own transport you might not be able to reorganise your life to go.”

Mrs Herrick added: “Originally I moved to Castletown because it had such a good bus service. There are hardly any buses now – the bus service is a complete nightmare.

"A Saturday is always worse for buses than a weekday. Also it's quite a walk from nearest bus stop to the British Legion, if those using the drop-in are not in full health, and they would need somewhere to while away the time before the return bus."

At the same time, it has emerged that some elderly people in Caithness have been receiving Covid spring booster appointments for locations as far away as Inverness and Tain.

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

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."

Information about local vaccination clinics can be found on the NHS Highland website.

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