Health board criticised over location of vaccine 'supercentres'

NHS Lanarkshire has been criticised for its decision to force people to travel to Ravenscraig or East Kilbride if they wish to receive their Covid-19 vaccine at the earliest available opportunity.

Ravenscraig Regional Sports Facility

On Monday the health board will open its two ‘supercentres’ – at the Regional Sports Facility and the Ally McCoist Complex – which will each be able to handle 50,000 vaccines a week.

However, many in Cumbernauld and Kilsyth are uphappy at the length of the journey for those who drive and the lack of transport options to reach either location for those who don’t.

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NHS Lanarkshire stated those unable to attend at a supercentre will able to rebook more locally, most likely at the Muirfield Centre, but this will require them to wait.

Dr Mark Russell, lead for the Covid-19 vaccination programme in Lanarkshire, said: “Initially, all appointments will be at the supercentres. People can choose to reschedule their appointment to one of the local centres, however there will be a wait for these.

“We would strongly encourage people who can attend their appointment at a supercentre, to do so. This will protect the local centres for those who cannot travel. Travelling to a supercentre will enable people to receive their vaccination sooner than they would otherwise."

NHS Lanarkshire received a wave of criticism on its social media platforms .

Dianne Dixon said: “Ridiculous to expect people to travel over 20 miles to either of these supercentres with zero public transport connecting these areas.”

Alison Fraser said: “This will most certainly make the vaccine inaccessible to many people, seems an ill thought out plan.”

Cumbernauld and Kilsyth’s parliamentarians Jamie Hepburn MSP and Stuart McDonald MP have written to the health board asking for a rethink and for an urgent meeting with officials.

Mr Hepburn said "We should not have people worried about safely making it to their appointment for these vaccinations, due to having to take multiple lengthy trips on public transport. NHS Lanarkshire need to revisit these new plans as a matter of urgency."

Mr McDonald added: "We continue to be unpersuaded by the reasons for this change in approach and to find it totally unacceptable.”