“You were unable to go to/missed your 1st appointment to get the coronavirus vaccination. This means you will need to book both your appointments again”
I couldn’t believe my eyes! There I was eagerly booking my FIRST appointment for the Covid-19 jab on the NHS booking site, after weeks of eagerly waiting for the postal invitations. I had tried to book the previous day, but the only locations offered were more than 14 miles away on the coast or some 40-50 miles, near London. NHS 119 had advised me to check again the next day, “as they update the slots every morning”.
So at first glint of dawn I had logged on to two gadgets simultaneously, one for me and one for husband, as we needed to get the appointments within the same hour. Unsurprisingly, I made an error with one of the birthdates, and got the message “we have no record of this patient”. So I started again, and got the message as above.
There are rumours (from other countries, of course) of health administrators stealing vaccination appointments to jump the queue, in spite of the fact that an administrator, mostly holed up with a computer, certainly does not suffer the same risks as the ward-based or frontline health staff.
Local news had highlighted the information that no vaccine was going to waste because there was a list of people to be called at short notice in place of “no shows”. Very efficient – except if the “no shows” are artificially generated by not informing the higher priority patients in the first place about their appointments.
There is no faster moving subject than Covid-19 vaccination. This may help to find out how far you are away from getting a jab. We’ll be updating this shortly.
An alternative explanation – more palatable as it involves (high paid) incompetence rather than dishonest queue jumping – is that the programmers of this system have put in the wrong error message for the type of mistake I had just made on the birth date.
But be warned – booking for the Covid-19 jab when your turn comes can be as hard finding a food delivery slot in the week before Christmas. And it is not set up with the needs of the elderly in the forefront – needs such as that couples want to get appointments near the same time – especially if one is the carer, or driver, of the other.
And what about those without cars, or forbidden from driving on medical grounds ? A taxi is around £60 return to one of those new Kent vaccination centres, 14+ miles away.