Health chiefs will discuss difficulties encountered with the rollout of flu vaccinations over the winter at a meeting next week.
Aberdeen City Council’s integration joint board (IJB) will hear about the lessons learned from the flu vaccination programme carried out over the 2020/21 period.
Rising numbers of residents took advantage of flu jabs with 50% of at-risk residents getting vaccinated this year compared to 42% the previous year.
However, there were problems with the rollout with many letters being received by residents after the vaccination appointments were due to take place.
A report which will be discussed also outlines that some clinics had been overbooked, and staff were having to call patients and cancel their appointments, to stop them being overwhelmed.
One key lesson learned from the rollout was the need for all three health and social care partnerships in the Grampian are to work together to help anticipate and mitigate common risks.
The report said: “Communication was generally poor. The local communication campaign was delayed waiting for the national one to begin. Communication was not flexible enough to react to continually changing circumstances. This generated lots of enquiries, complaints etc. which diverted staff attention away from planning or delivery.
“A robust patient scheduling system was promised but at the last minute (literally hours before the first clinic) we were advised that due to technical issues it was not going to be available for use. As, by this time, it was too late to send our own appointment letters out for the first of the clinics, staff had to then obtain clinic lists again and start phoning patients to enable them to attend.
“It will be slightly different for Covid vaccinations particularly when we get to mass vaccinations of the working-age population. A national online booking system is being developed and it is hoped it will be available February/March 2020/21 i.e. in advance of the bulk cohort delivery.”
The report acknowledged the problems caused by letters arriving too late, and said that each health and social care partnership will be responsible for setting up a call centre when it comes to Covid-19 vaccinations.
It adds: “Errors were made and appointment letters were either issued with missing information or not issued at all. Due to the volume of letters, many arrived too late to enable people to attend. Initially, we thought we had a partial resolution to this by outsourcing the printing and posting of letters to a third party, however, this brought its own challenges and, rather than helping to resolve the situation, it further compounded the issues.
“Some clinics were overbooked, and staff had to call patients to cancel their appointments to avoid clinics being overwhelmed. Analysis of the helpline data indicates the overwhelming volume of contact was in relation to no, or delayed, appointment letters.”