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MSP raises concerns as north-east residents stuck in Covid helpline queues with hundreds of patients


By Kirsty Brown

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An MSP has raised concerns after it’s emerged Covid-19 helplines are regularly out of service or unmanned.

MSP for Aberdeenshire West, Alexander Burnett has been contacted by dozens of constituents who have said they have given up on phoning the helpline after being placed in queues with hundreds of patients.

Mr Burnett has now submitted a written question to the Scottish Government calling for more staff to be deployed to the service as well as introducing more efficient methods in allowing people to access information, reschedule their vaccine appointment, check their vaccine status, and enquire about missed appointment letters.

In one case, a resident said they had given up after being placed 179th in the queue, prompting Mr Burnett to demand answers on why the service was unmanned at a time of need.

MSP Alexander Burnett.
MSP Alexander Burnett.

He said: “I have been extremely concerned to hear of the problems my constituents in the north-east have faced with the Covid-19 helpline.

“These cases highlight that in its current form, the helpline is not fit for purpose.

“It’s shameful that people can’t access vital information at a time of significant need, particularly vulnerable groups who solely rely on this service.

“Constituents have contacted me to say they have been left waiting in a queue with hundreds of others and have subsequently given up on waiting due to the unacceptable time it has taken.

“These examples highlight that the helpline is not being staffed properly by the Scottish Government and those who are currently working on the service need more help to deal with enquiries.

“As Scotland’s and the UK’s vaccination programme continues to gather pace with more groups getting their jabs, the role of the helpline in offering advice and information becomes even more vital.

“This is why I have submitted a written question to the Scottish Government asking why such an important service is letting the people of the north-east down during such an important time.”


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