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Long-haul Covid follow-up jag option 'incredibly frustrating' for Easter Ross patients – but solution emerges


By Neil MacPhail

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Dr Jonathan Whiteside, Clinical Lead for Critical Care with NHS Highland, was the first person to be vaccinated within the NHS Highland area in December 2020. Maureen Sutherland did the honours.
Dr Jonathan Whiteside, Clinical Lead for Critical Care with NHS Highland, was the first person to be vaccinated within the NHS Highland area in December 2020. Maureen Sutherland did the honours.

AN Easter Ross woman anxious to receive her second Covid jag was told she could attend a clinic in Wick or Inverness.

Amy Mackay, from Hilton of Cadboll, is in the under-40s age group and registered with Tain and District Medical Group.

She received her first Covid vaccine on July 3 at a drop-in clinic for patients of Tain, run by NHS Highland.

She said the clinic was arranged “last-minute” following numerous patient complaints from people given appointments in Smithton.

After eight weeks, there was no sign of another clinic at Tain, although the demand was predictable.

She said: “I contacted my GP practice on August 26 and was told that they had no information, they were continuing to press NHS Highland on the matter and that I could attend a drop-in clinic in Smithton or Wick – an 80-mile or 150-mile round trip from my home.”

She contacted NHS Highland and was given a link to the current list of drop-in clinics. She said: “When I said Tain seemed to have been forgotten about, I was told this would be passed to the vaccination team.”

She said: “Tain and Fearn Area Medical Practice, in the same building as Tain and District, ran their clinics themselves and patients were given appointments to attend at Tain.

“People in the same age group as myself who are registered with Tain and Fearn have been fully vaccinated for weeks now. This is incredibly frustrating.”

She raised the issue with MSP Maree Todd, noting that “neither Tain and District Medical Group nor NHS Highland seem particularly bothered about the situation and their currently unvaccinated patients”.

It transpires that NHS Highland had arranged a Tain drop-in clinic for September 13 at St Duthac’s centre between 10am and 4.30pm.

Mrs Mackay said: “On Monday 13th it will be just over 10 weeks since my first vaccination and while I am grateful that a clinic is coming back to Tain, it shouldn’t have been a battle to get it to come back and it should have been back two weeks ago.”

NHS Highland said: “Delivery of the vaccine programme in NHS Highland has been a huge task. The logistics behind this in an area this size with a large remote and rural population cannot be underestimated.

“How the vaccine is delivered depends on the area you live - some will be by GP, some will be by board run clinics, where GPs have opted out, and these clinics will also include drop in.

“We are continually looking at where we need clinics and how we can reach a wider population. Once areas are identified our plans to deliver these clinics are put into place which includes ensuring we have staff available to run these clinics.

Additional clinics are still being planned across NHS Highland and these will be advertised on our website.”

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