More staff are being recruited for the vaccination contact centre, says the health board, following complaints that people have been unable to get through.

Vale of Clwyd MP Dr James Davies is concerned by the number of constituents who have recently been in touch with him because, despite repeated attempts, have been unable to get through via the centre’s phone line.

He said: “In October, I raised concerns with the health board that many elderly residents were unable to attend the OpTic centre in St Asaph for their booster jab and were having issues getting through to the centre to change their appointment.

“I was told at the time by the health board that it had 40 lines in operation and that staff were answering calls as quickly as possible.

"They said that the number of calls coming in meant that it was not always possible to answer them within a reasonable timeframe.

"However, the reports that I am receiving suggest that people often can’t get through no matter when, or how often, they try."

Dr Davies added: “In recent weeks, wherever I go I am approached by people experiencing problems getting through to the centre, I've also been inundated with text messages and emails from constituents with the same complaint.

“People are being given appointments for their booster jab, but if they are unable to make the appointment time, they can’t get hold of anyone to change it.

“Many are extremely frustrated and the situation is only likely to worsen as there is a rush to obtain boosters in the face of Omicron, and as the number entitled to a booster vaccine increases significantly to include all adults.

“The health board therefore needs to find a solution to this issue as soon as possible and I have contacted them urging them to do so.

"Additional vaccination capacity and clinic sites are also required, including walk-in provision if at all possible. I appreciate what a major operation this is, but the current service is simply not good enough.”

Vaccination programme manager Graham Rustom said: “We are aware some patients have had difficulty accessing our vaccination contact centre, as call volumes remain incredibly high.

“The average waiting time for a call to be answered last month was six minutes and 44 seconds, which is longer than we would like.

“We have been actively recruiting more people to work in our contact centre, so we would ask people to be patient as we take on and train additional staff.

“People can be assured they will be contacted for a booster vaccine appointment when it is their turn. You do not need to contact us.

“The work involved in contacting members of the public who qualify for a booster vaccine has increased recently. This is because the recommended gap between someone’s second Covid vaccination and their booster vaccination has reduced to three months, from six months.

“We would ask you to help us to help you, by making every effort to stick to your vaccine booster appointment and only call us to reschedule if it is unavoidable.

“If you must reschedule your appointment, call the vaccination contact centre on 03000 840004. The lines are open Monday to Friday, 8am to 7pm and Saturday to Sunday, 9am to 2pm. We would also remind members of the public calls will be recorded for training and quality purposes.

“A new service is being developed by Welsh Government which will allow people to amend or cancel their vaccination appointments via text message. There will be a further announcement once this goes live.”