By Bill Heaney

Jackie Baillie has welcomed an apology to residents affected by a blunder which saw 260 residents eligible for a Covid vaccination miss out because it wasn’t ordered in on the day they were invited to attend.

Clinics were arranged on both September 5th and 6th in Helensburgh’s Victoria Halls but, due to human error at a local level, the vaccine against Covid was not ordered in time and therefore those who presented for both jabs were only able to get the flu immunisation.

The Dumbarton constituency MSP raised this with First Minister Humza Yousaf last week and again with Cabinet Secretary for NHS Recovery, Health and Social Care Michael Matheson on Tuesday.

Dame Jackie Baillie, First Minister Humza Yousaf, LibDem spokesperson Willie Rennie and Health Minister Michael Matheson.

Jackie Baillie said: “This was an extremely regrettable episode which caused problems for hundreds of residents in the Helensburgh area. They will now have to attend again to get their Covid vaccine which is both inconvenient for them and for the staff administering the vaccinations.

“This happened while Covid rates are rising and hospital wards at the nearby Vale of Leven Hospital have had to close because of outbreaks of the infection.

“It is a lesson which needs to be learned quickly as it is imperative that people are able to access the Covid vaccine promptly.

“I hope that the SNP Government take this opportunity to reach out to all health boards ensuring this type of incident is not repeated elsewhere.”

Meanwhile, Dame Jackie has received backing from the LibDems.

Scottish Liberal Democrat communities spokesperson Willie Rennie MSP has called for an increase in the capacity of the winter vaccination programme after people in constituency faced problems when trying to book appointments.

The winter vaccination programme for flu and covid was launched last week, with over-75s and people with weakened immune systems offered appointments at specific-times, and other eligible groups being invited to book through an online portal.

However, online bookings were temporarily suspended due to the identification of a new covid variant in Scotland and the decision to offer over-75s and people with weakened immune systems appointments earlier than previously planned.

Some people in the 65-74 age group are now facing lengthy waits for appointments. As of last week there were no appointments for this group until mid-December, a wait of more than three months.

Mr Rennie said: “The winter vaccination programme is absolutely vital to protecting people from covid and flu, and also minimising the pressure of these diseases on the NHS during its busiest time of year. We all want it to progress as swiftly and efficiently as possible.

“I have heard from constituents who are understandably concerned and frustrated at the problems with booking their vaccination appointment, with the prospect of getting their jabs three months later than last year and fifteen months since their last booster.

“The decision to reschedule the most vulnerable is important, but every effort must be made to ensure that other groups do not have to face long waits as a result. The capacity of the vaccination programme should be increased in response and to ensure that appointments are available.”

Breaking news from the Scottish Parliament:

LibDem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton and First Minister Humza Yousaf.

The First Minister has been urged to refer himself to the Independent Adviser on the Scottish Ministerial Code over his “correction” to the public record following a false claim on renewable energy.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said he is concerned that Humza Yousaf “may have knowingly misled Parliament”. He added: “The Ministerial code is clear, ministers who knowingly mislead parliament will be expected to resign. This is really serious.”

It comes after an extraordinary piece of detective work by Sam Taylor from the pro-UK think tank These Islands revealed that civil servants spent weeks trying to come up with an excuse for Mr Yousaf’s misleading claim that Scotland has the majority of the UK’s renewable energy resources.

Instead of simply admitting he had made a mistake, emails obtained by Mr Taylor show that officials considered several alternative explanations before coming up with the suggestion that he had intended to say that Scotland has the most renewables “per capita” during the exchange at Holyrood on June 22.

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