The SNP government is being accused of dithering over covid vaccine certificates after patients were turned away for requesting proof.
Ministers are still working on a potential digital system which the public could use to show both shots of coronavirus vaccine had been received, months after the programme began.
Meanwhile, a “vaccine report card” is being issued in England but not offered in Scotland.
The absence of a confirmed plan has led to Scottish GPs being inundated with requests for a form of proof in case it becomes essential for activities as simple as booking a hotel, going to a public event or buying a plane ticket.
Some surgeries are already appealing to patients not to ask for proof of vaccination, claiming they do not have the capacity. Official NHS guidance makes clear it is a right to access medical history. Advice by NHS Inform includes writing to a GP practice manager.
‘Dither and delay’
Scottish Conservative health spokesman Donald Cameron said: “Throughout the pandemic the SNP have dithered and delayed. Knowingly sending covid-positive patients into care homes, flaws in the track and trace system, and the patchy vaccine rollout are some of the realities behind the spin.
“But thanks to the UK’s world-leading vaccine programme and our NHS staff, life is returning to normal.
“It is likely that vaccine passports will be needed for certain activities, so it’s therefore vital for the SNP to work quickly and with the other home nations to ensure consistency. They must listen to what GPs and other health professionals are saying.”
The British Medical Association in Scotland, which represents doctors, wants the government to take pressure off frontline professionals.
Andrew Buist, chairman of BMA Scotland’s GP committee, said: “GPs are under huge pressure at the moment and are facing many rising demands for their time. While it is understandable that the public will look to seek proof of vaccination even while we wait for any decisions on vaccine passports – this is not a role for GPs, in particular as the system is being run by health boards in Scotland.
“What we need is an efficient service that provides proof of vaccination as simply as possible and means patients don’t waste their time seeking this from their GP surgery.
“For some time now, I’ve been asking the Covid vaccination programme board to ensure that the system that records people who have been given a vaccine has the capability to produce some sort of digital proof. I understand this is what is now planned and should provide what is required by patients for international travel purposes.”
In April, national clinical director Jason Leitch said paper proof, like in England, is “not a satisfactory solution”.
He said collating the information is complex and all UK administrations are discussing a joint digital system.
Officials also underline the current ban on overseas holidays and requirement for negative tests as evidence a vaccine card would have little practical use at this stage.
A Scottish Government spokesman confirmed there is no formal certificate offered to people who had their jabs.
In a statement, the government added: “Scottish Government officials are continuing to carry out work, including scoping the equality and ethical issues relating to Covid status certification, with a view to offering advice to the new administration after the election.”
People are offered a leaflet on what to expect after the vaccine and information about the specific vaccine they received. Details are held centrally as part of individual health records.
The UK Government department for health, which deals with the NHS in England, said a record card is issued to patients with details of the vaccine, date and type, but is not considered proof of immunity.
A spokesman for the UK Government added: “The Government is working on providing individuals with the means to demonstrate their covid status easily – through a digital route as well as a route for people who don’t have access to a smart phone. Security and privacy will be at the core of our approach.
“Use of the NHS App is being considered as part of the digital route.”