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Rennie challenges Minister over freezing Fife patients

February 9, 2021 5:00 PM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader and North East Fife MSP Willie Rennie has today challenged the Health Secretary and First Minister over their insistence that "nothing's gone wrong" over the rollout of the vaccine after up to 7,000 vaccine appointments in NHS Fife were incorrectly booked, leading to elderly and vulnerable patients waiting for hours in the cold.

At today's coronavirus briefing, Nicola Sturgeon said: "Nothing's gone wrong, going wrong, in our vaccination programme... there is nothing going wrong in this programme - on the contrary it's going really well."

However in a letter to Fife MSPs and MPs, the Health Secretary this morning admitted: "I understand many people faced long delays and waits, and that some people were sent home without being vaccinated. This is unacceptable and far below my expectations of the vaccine programme… The IT glitch resulted in around 7,000 appointments being incorrectly scheduled."

Commenting after pressing the Health Secretary over the errors, Mr Rennie said:

"The First Minister's proclamation that nothing has gone wrong will seem utterly far-fetched to my elderly and vulnerable constituents who queued in sub-zero conditions for hours on end for an injection that would only take minutes.

"That 7000 appointments were affected is bad enough, that they still don't know what went wrong is even worse. Such a large error should have been spotted before elderly people turned up for their appointments. Not only are we still way behind England but we are now inviting people for appointments that don't even exist.

"The thousands of excellent vaccinators are being let down by a creaking system established by a government oblivious to the problems."

North East Fife MP Wendy Chamberlain added:

"The government have had more than enough time to prepare for the vaccine roll out.

"It is right that the Cabinet Secretary has now apologised, but this was entirely avoidable. Many of my constituents, elderly and vulnerable, were left outside in the cold waiting for the vaccine for a respiratory virus. This is simply unacceptable.

"The country's patience for a slow and troublesome vaccine roll out is wearing thin and the government must get a grasp of this, not with small fixes but system change to ensure these mistakes don't happen again."

ENDS