Slower vaccine rollout in NHS Lothian 'due to supply from Scottish Government'

The Scottish Government has faced further questions over the slower Covid-19 vaccine rollout in NHS Lothian, after Health Secretary Jeane Freeman attributed the issue to a younger population.

Thursday, 25th March 2021, 6:00 am
01-02-2021. Picture Michael Gillen.
01-02-2021. Picture Michael Gillen.

Figures within NHS Lothian said the health board has lagged behind others in its vaccination rate in part due to the level of supply it receives from the Scottish Government which is allocated based on a resource-sharing formula known as ‘NRAC’.

Edinburgh Southern MSP Daniel Johnson said: “There's a key question here as to why the vaccines are being supplied on anything other than by JCVI category and how many people each health board area have per group.

"Any additional rationing, based on on NRAC really does require explanation. NRAC is a formula that already disadvantages people in the Lothians, we have the lowest per capita revenue in capital funding of any health board area, and if that formula is being used to constrain the number of doses available to people in Edinburgh, I would really question why that is.”

The Health Secretary wrote to Lothian MSPs and MPs last week to address recent concerns. She attributed the comparatively slower rollout to the Lothians’ younger population.

In the Lothians 35 per cent of people are aged over 50, compared to 37 in Greater Glasgow and Clyde and 49 per cent in the Western Isles.

Ms Freeman wrote: "A key focus of the vaccination programme at present is vaccination of those aged 50 years and over, so the younger age profile in Lothian explains why the headline coverage of the overall adult population is lower than other areas.

"A more accurate reflection of the process is to consider delivery based on mid-year estimates for those aged 50 and over. On this basis, internal analysis shows vaccinations in NHS Lothian are progressing very well, in line with JCVI priority groups and according to their available supply.”

Ediniburgh South MP Ian Murray believes the letter left some questions unanswered, he said: “There are people still waiting for letters and there is growing anxiety due to looming shortages.

"Demographics are clearly one factor, but Jeane Freeman’s letter doesn’t answer the question why Edinburgh is so far behind other urban centres."