NICOLA Sturgeon has been urged to appoint a vaccines minister as the NHS prepares to begin immunising people next week.

Ian Murray, the shadow secretary of state for Scotland, said it is vital the Scottish Government has a designated minister to manage the rollout of the jab.

It comes after the UK Government appointed Nadhim Zahawi MP as its political vaccines chief last week.

Mr Murray, Labour MP for Edinburgh South, referred to comments by the chief executive of Scottish Care Donald MacAskill, when he said that he was worried the Scottish flu vaccination rollout had been “poorly managed”.

HeraldScotland:

Mr McAskill said in October, before the announcement of the covid vaccine: "We are very concerned that the roll out has been as poorly managed and as patchy as it is.

"This is another tool to protect residents and, critically, to protect staff and we have got to do better.

"If this is a prototype for the vaccination which we hope will come in the spring for Covid then we have got to learn the lessons very quickly."

Mr Murray said: “The shambolic rollout of flu vaccine this winter will not have inspired confidence among Scots and the government must do all that it can to ensure the COVID-19 vaccine does not face the same issues.

“It will not be enough for the First Minister alone to hold daily press conferences - there must be a minister dedicated to the vaccine rollout who can ensure the delivery is quick and effective.”

He added that problems with PPE also indicated that there needed to be a dedicated minister for the Covid-19 vaccine distribution.

He explained: “The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine will be one of the largest organisational challenges our country has ever faced, and we must be prepared for that.

“The news of the approval of the vaccine is incredibly encouraging, and will be met with delight by people across the globe.

“With the UK approving the vaccine ahead of other countries, the rollout here will be the first in the world. It is critical that it is done safely and as quickly as possible to help save lives.

“The Scottish Government’s early mistakes during the COVID-19 crisis, such as failing to provide enough PPE for healthcare staff and the slow roll out of Test and Protect, must not be repeated with the implementation of vaccine programmes." 

When asked about the suggestion at this afternoon's coronavirus briefing, The First Minister said she would continue to monitor the progress, but added that it would be being overseen at present by Jeane Freeman. 

She said: "The health secretary is overseeing this and is doing it on a daily basis, literally round the clock.

"I think first text I received from her was at 6’oclock, quickly followed by the Chief Medical Officer, so there is a real focus but I will consider on an ongoing basis whether we need to bring in any further resources...ministerial, civil services, clinical, whatever it takes, we will make sure this programme works in the way it is intended."