ONE of Scotland’s best known academics has hit out at Scotland’s “impossible” Covid helpline after waiting more than 14 weeks for his second vaccine.

Professor Sir John Curtice revealed how he spent three weeks unsuccessfully raising concerns about his missing appointment through the national helpline, health board, and online forms, saying that the shortcomings in the system “need to be exposed”.

The 67-year-old pollster, from Hyndland in Glasgow, was due his second dose by April 30 but was only given an appointment for his second vaccination today after the Herald raised his case with the health board.

He said helpline operatives verified that he was due his second dose, but were unable to book the appointment and were left to pass his details on to health board teams.

“The problem seems to be that the helpline is unable to solve the problem that it identifies,” said Prof Curtice.

HeraldScotland: Sir John Curtice, a professor of politics at Strathclyde University, is best known for his work as a polling analyst during electionsSir John Curtice, a professor of politics at Strathclyde University, is best known for his work as a polling analyst during elections

READ MORE: Investigation as 'small number' wait more than 12 weeks for second Covid vaccine dose

“So that raises the question: ‘why do we have the helpline if they can’t do anything?’, and/or ‘why are the health board ignoring messages they’re getting from the helpline?’ - assuming they’re getting them?

“There’s an operational issue somewhere that someone needs to sort out.”

The booking and appointments system in Scotland is overseen by NHS National Services Scotland who who have outsourced it to Californian IT giant ServiceNow for £780,000 to date.

In England - which uses a British contractor, System C - people are being invited by age group to book their own vaccinations, while in Scotland patients are mostly sent appointment letters.

The Herald understands that, from Monday, staff on Scotland’s national Covid helpline will be allowed for the first time to make bookings directly for missed patients following repeated complaints that people were being passed “from pillar to post”.

Labour MSP for Glasgow Pam Duncan-Glancy said she has been contacted by a number of constituents nearing or passed the 12-week threshold for their second dose who "haven’t been able to resolve the situation without the help of the press or an MSP".

She said: “Given the sheer pace and scale of the vaccination rollout it is understandable that hiccups will occur, but they must be rectified as soon as they are identified.

"I’m working with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to resolve the situation for the people involved, and also to work with them to address the operational issues that have led to these people falling through the cracks.”

One 27-year-old science student with a rare condition which puts him at high risk of a collapsed lung if he develops Covid described the process of querying his missed appointment as “unparalleled logistical chaos”.

Richard Maclaren said he had repeatedly contacted the Covid helpline, completed online forms, and spoken to his GP surgery or health board staff ahead of the April 15 deadline to give first doses to everyone aged 16-64 with an underlying health condition.

READ MORE: Lanarkshire grandmother denied Covid jag as NHS 'has no record of her'

There remain 94,000 people in this category - around 12 per cent - yet to receive a first dose, but it is unclear how many have opted not to be vaccinated.

Mr Maclaren said helpline staff told him to check with his GP that he had been added to the priority list, but the practice referred him to the health board who in turn passed him on to another helpline.

“All they could do was confirm that I was not on the system,” he said, adding that he was told there was a “four-to-six week backlog” in sending out appointments to those found to have being missed.

“I was informed that the group of people with underlying health conditions is far larger than was initially anticipated.”

HeraldScotland: First Covid vaccinations are being accelerated to 18 to 39-year-olds in parts of Glasgow where the Indian variant is believed to be driving large outbreaks. Over-50s in these areas are expected to get second doses at eight weeks now instead of 12First Covid vaccinations are being accelerated to 18 to 39-year-olds in parts of Glasgow where the Indian variant is believed to be driving large outbreaks. Over-50s in these areas are expected to get second doses at eight weeks now instead of 12

David Willows has been chasing overdue second doses for his 88-year-old in-laws in the Tollcross area of Glasgow since the start of May.

He said: “I am certain that they are not alone and there will be a number of at risk people in their 80’s in Glasgow who have been missed. It’s really frustrating and disappointing.”

Prof Curtice said he had been particularly worried after his delayed appointment meant he had to travel to London for election work between May 2 and 10 without being fully vaccinated.

He said: “That’s the riskiest thing I’ve done for months because for the most part I can just work from home.

"Sure I know that having had one vaccine my chances are much better than if I’d had none, but I also know that my chances are a helluva lot better if I’ve had two.”

In April, Scotland’s chief medical officer, Dr Gregor Smith said investigations were ongoing into why a “small number” of people had waited more than 12 weeks for their second vaccination.

READ MORE: 'You've got a third wave on your hands' - Australian expert's warning to Scots amid UK Indian variant outbreaks

Scotland’s national clinical director, Professor Jason Leitch, said at the time that it was “not an exact science” and getting a second dose at 14 or 15 weeks “is absolutely fine”.

A spokeswoman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: “We are sorry to hear Professor Curtice experienced difficulty in making a second dose appointment.

"We have contacted Professor Curtice and offered him an appointment on Tuesday 18 May.”

It comes as the latest data shows that one in every thousand people in Glasgow is testing positive for the virus, driven by an explosion in cases in parts of the southside believed to be linked to the Indian variant.

HeraldScotland: The surge in Covid cases has been concentrated in the southside of Glasgow, particularly around PollokshieldsThe surge in Covid cases has been concentrated in the southside of Glasgow, particularly around Pollokshields

In the Pollokshields West hotspot nearly 16 in every 1000 residents is infected, with virus rates also climbing to 87 per 100,000 in East Renfrewshire - well beyond the 50 per 100,000 threshold for Level Two.

NHS GGC is accelerating vaccinations to people aged 18 to 39 in the worst-hit postcodes of G41, G42, G5, G51, G52, and is “finalising plans” to speed up second doses to eight-week intervals for over 50s in communities such as Pollokshields, the Gorbals and Govanhill.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “To try and get people vaccinated quickly and in a coordinated way, using evidence from previous vaccination and screening programmes, using letters of appointment for vaccinations was the most established and coordinated approach.

"However, the Scottish Government is exploring the feasibility of rolling out online booking for future cohorts of the vaccination programme.

“The NHS NSS Service Now platform has been in place across Scotland’s Health Boards for more than three years.

"It has reduced costs, increased efficiency and created an improved ‘once for Scotland’ digital platform.”