NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) has apologised to members of the public for the way the flu vaccination programme has been delivered so far this year.

Concerns were raised and the vaccination scheme was dubbed an "absolute shambles" by one Glasgow GP, prompting Health Secretary Jeane Freeman to make clear that it was “not acceptable” for the most elderly in the population to wait longest for the winter flu jag.

The Health Board has since said it is "very aware of the concerns" that have been raised by members of the public and the anxiety felt by those in the 65+ age group who are yet to receive their flu vaccination.

READ MORE: Freeman warns NHS bosses it is 'not acceptable' for oldest to get flu jags last amid row over vaccination 'shambles'

In a statement released today, NHSGGC said it would like to reassure members of the public that all remaining letters to the 65+age group will be sent this week, with the promise that their appointment will be scheduled before the end of November.

Senior members of the Health Board team met with local MPs and MSPs yesterday to understand in more detail the concerns of constituents and explain the actions that are underway to resolve these issues.

Jane Grant, Chief Executive of NHSGGC, said: “On behalf of the Health Board, I would like to sincerely apologise to all those people who have experienced issues with their flu vaccination appointments.

"We are very sorry for any distress and anxiety this has caused, especially among the more vulnerable members of our local communities.

“There have been a number of challenges with the delivery of the flu vaccination programme and we have taken action to ensure this situation never happens again.

She added: “We would like to offer reassurance to those in the 65+ year old age group who are yet to receive their flu vaccination that all remaining letters will be sent this week and you will have your appointment scheduled to take place before the end of November, before the flu season starts between late December and January.

READ MORE: Rollout of flu vaccine in Greater Glasgow and Lanarkshire is 'highly unfortunate and short-sighted'

“For those who received their letter after their appointment date, we will ensure that you get an alternative appointment.

"We understand that many people have struggled to get through to our appointment line and we are very sorry for that. We have now employed an additional 20 call handlers to manage enquiries so that more people can be supported in a more timely way.

"If members of the public do need to change their appointment, please contact us on 0800 707 6699 or via email at adult.flu@ggc.scot.nhs.uk.

“If individuals need to change the timing of their appointment, we will do everything possible to rearrange this for them. If there are accessibility issues with their assigned vaccination centre, we will work with each individual on a case by case basis to find the centre most suitable for them."

This is the first year that health boards have taken over responsibility for immunisations - which were previously handled by GPs - at a time when protecting the elderly and at-risk groups from flu is particularly important due to the risks posed by Covid-19.

Ms Grant went on: “The flu vaccination programme has been especially challenging this year, due to the increased number of eligible people and because it is vitally important that we adhere to physical distancing guidelines when administering vaccinations.

"However, we will make sure that we learn the lessons from what has happened this year and put measures in place to avoid these issues being repeated.

“I would like to thank our MPs and MSPs for making the time to speak with us yesterday. We remain committed to working with you to address any concerns that have been raised by people living in our region.

“Finally, we would also like to thank all of our staff who are delivering flu vaccinations to members of the public. We very much appreciate the work you are doing to support our communities.”