Glasgow, Scotland, July, 2021 -- Thousands of calls to Scotland's vaccine helpline have gone unanswered as staff struggle to meet demand, figures show.
NHS Inform runs a telephone service for all general covid vaccine inquiries, such as missed appointments, from 8am-8pm seven days a week.
Figures obtained by Scottish Labour show thousands of calls to the helpline have been abandoned after average waits skyrocketed.
On every weekday between 17 May and 9 June, over a quarter of calls to the helpline were abandoned, while in May alone, over 20 per cent of all calls were abandoned.
On three separate days - 24 May, 5 June and 7 June, -over half of all calls were abandoned. On 24 May, those calling to register for a vaccine faced an average wait of over 23 minutes.
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The increase in wait times comes as the volume of calls to the helpline increased - there were over 670,000 calls to the helpline in May and almost 200,000 in the first nine days of June alone.
It comes as daily vaccination rates have plummeted in recent weeks as fewer Scots under the age of 30 come forward for their first dose, and many others currently waiting eight weeks for a second jab.
The latest figures from Public Health Scotland show that in the four weeks between June 12 and July 9, almost two-thirds (64.7%) of confirmed coronavirus cases were among the unvaccinated.
Just over half (51.6%) of Covid-19 hospital admissions for the same four-week period involved unvaccinated individuals, with 70.6% of this group aged under 40.
Scottish Labour health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said: "It is deeply worrying that thousands of Scots who are seeking help or guidance on the vaccine programme are being left hanging on the telephone or having to give up without answers.
"We simply cannot have thousands going without the help and guidance that they need.
"It is the duty of the Scottish Government to ensure that the vaccine helpline is fit for purpose and that staff are properly supported in carrying out their duties.
"The success of the vaccine programme is on the line – every effort must be made to support helpline staff and to ensure people get the help and guidance that they need."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
Published: Tuesday, July 20, 2021
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