NHS Fife have apologised and promised to improve their flu jab programme after a booking line was "overwhelmed" with 71,000 calls in two days.

A huge surge in demand meant the system was swamped as people tried to book appointments, and there were complaints about the length of time it took to get through.

At a meeting of Fife’s Health and Social Care Integrated Joint Board (IJB) meeting, Dona Milne, director of public health, said a full-scale review will be carried out.

She added: “I know this has caused a lot of anxiety this week.

“We have taken a significant amount of people on board to help with the issue and we have people working through the backlog.

“We’ve got extra resources to answer phones, emails and text messages.

“There will be extra people working this weekend as well to try to get on top of this.”

Letters were sent out to vulnerable people across the Kingdom, urging them to get in touch about immunisation from the flu, but many were left without appointments or a response, despite spending several days trying to get through.

Ms Milne said the health board had been “overwhelmed” by the “unanticipated response” after it received 71,000 calls within two days of the letters being sent.

She assured the public that NHS Fife has enough vaccines, and said that appointments and immunisations will continue to take place despite stricter lockdown measures coming into force.

The review will focus on lessons to be learned and will be presented at the next IJB meeting.

Ms Milne added: "We’d ask people to just bear with us as we go through this process of getting on top of this backlog, and to identify the measures we can put in place to avoid this happening again.”

Carol Potter, interim chief executive of NHS Fife, apologised for the board’s handling of the flu jab programme, adding: “It could have been better.”

She said: “We’ve now got a number of measures put in place to address the issues with the appointment system.

“Our staff within our public health and immunisation teams are doing their utmost to provide the best service possible. I’d like to thank them for all their incredible efforts.

“That doesn’t take away from the fact that this has caused a lot of anxiety for members of the public and I assure you that appointments will be made available to everyone."