SCOTLAND’s largest health board has U-turned on plans to scrap drop-in vaccination clinics amid claims the move was “extraordinary and dangerous”.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHS GGC) and NHS Lanarkshire both faced backlash after indicating there would be no further drop-in clinics scheduled.
The health boards, which together serve about 1.8 million people, planned to instead only accept pre-booked appointments.
Speaking yesterday, Scottish Conservative health spokesman Dr Sandesh Gulhane said the decision was “unbelievable” and “flies in the face of the SNP saying their vaccine scheme would encourage uptake among younger groups”.
He added: “In two of Scotland’s largest health boards, people now cannot even drop-in to get a vaccine.
“The SNP should be making it as easy as possible for everyone to get jabbed and ramping up the rollout at every turn.
“Instead, local drop-in clinics aren’t even open and the SNP’s vaccine passport app has turned into a total shambles on the first day it is in operation.”
Scottish Labour health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie added: “This is extraordinary and dangerous.
“That two of Scotland’s largest health boards are unable to offer drop-in vaccinations is simply unacceptable.
“Thousands of Scots remain unvaccinated – if we are ever to get this virus under control we must act now and we need to be opening up opportunities for vaccination, not closing down clinics.
“It is down to this SNP Government to stop going at a snail’s pace and take action to ensure that health boards continue to provide vaccination clinics, particularly as the NHS is already in crisis before we even get to the pressure created by winter.”
Now, Scotland’s biggest health board has said that “in response to demand from the public”, drop-in clinics would continue this weekend.
In response to demand , we are running drop-in vaccination clinics for 1st and 2nd doses this weekend. Info: https://t.co/xWaDpYeCBl.
Drop-in clinics operate alongside appointment clinics and patients may have to queue. Please book your appointment online or call 0800 030 8013.
— NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (@NHSGGC) October 2, 2021
A statement from the NHS GGC said: “In response to demand from the public, we are now running drop-in vaccination clinics for first and second doses this weekend at centres in Greater Glasgow and Clyde.
“Full info can be found on the NHSGGC website here.
“We are keen to make it as accessible as possible for people to receive their vaccinations. Our drop-in clinics will operate alongside our appointment clinics so patients should be aware they may have to queue.
“In addition to offering first, second and booster COVID-19 vaccinations, we are also delivering approximately 63,000 flu vaccinations per week to help ensure as many people as possible are protected in the run up to winter.
“We would ask the public that wherever possible, to continue to book vaccination appointments online or by telephone on 0800 030 8013. This will help us manage footfall at clinics, and will minimise queueing time for patients.
“If you book on any given day, you will more than likely receive an appointment on the same day, if required.”
In NHS Lanarkshire, a post on their website on Friday confirmed plans with the Scottish Ambulance Service to bring a drop-in vaccine unit to rural areas of the health board.
Dr Mark Russell, Lead for the covid-19 vaccination programme in Lanarkshire, said: “The mobile vaccination unit will help us to reach parts of the community who may have struggled to get to one of our vaccination centres.
“The bus will offer the covid-19 booster and flu vaccinations as well as first and second doses of the covid-19 vaccine for anyone who still needs to be vaccinated.
“You don’t need an appointment, you can just drop-in as long as you are eligible. For those requiring a covid-19 booster it needs to be at least six months since your second dose.”
Full details can be found here.
In her coronavirus statement to Parliament on Tuesday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said vaccination “remains the single most important thing any of us can do”, with a specific plea for those aged 12 to 15 to attend vaccine drop-in clinics now they are eligible to do so.
Appointment letters for that age group have since been sent out.