NHS Fife has been told it "must get its act together" following complaints that patients can't book flu jab appointments.

Both the Press and politicians have been contacted by West Fifers who claim to have called repeatedly, sent text messages and emails after they were sent letters about the jag by the health board but have had no response.

NHS Fife has admitted that it should have been better prepared to deal with the level of calls but assured patients that there was no shortage of appointments available.

The campaign this year will be delivered by health boards rather than GP practices with vaccinations clinics to be carried out at 90 community venues.

A 69-year-old lady, who wished to stay anonymous, told the Press she had phoned the dedicated Fife number 30 times on Friday and at least 41 times on Monday.

"Those of us in receipt of the letter have been trying to no avail since Friday and this includes my neighbours, who are in their eighties," she said.

"Not all of us are online and as for those text numbers given in the letter, there is no reply either.

"The letter states that they strongly recommend that I get a vaccine.

"We can’t see GPs, can’t see nurses and it would seem that if not online you won’t get your flu vaccine either – it's crazy!

"The elderly are not getting the services they need and they're frightened – there's is something ghastly not right here."

Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP Alex Rowley said that NHS Fife must get its act together after he was contacted by many constituents with the same problem.

One man told the politician that both himself and his wife had received letters about this year's flu vaccine being delivered at a "Fife hub".

He said: “I have been phoning to book appointments since the letters were received late last week and have failed to get a response.

"A call to the number, 01383 674111, gets a recorded message every time which states: "we are currently receiving high call volumes" then the call is immediately terminated or, if you're lucky, a further message states "call again later" and the call is terminated.

“It will be quite worrying to people like myself with diabetes and my wife with underlying health conditions, and both in our seventies, if we have to "book an appointment at a central hub". I would expect the percentage take-up of flu jabs will drop considerably from previous years where the service was provided at people's own GP practice.”

NHS Fife says that there has been a huge response from those looking to arrange their annual flu jab across Fife this year.

Its chief executive, Carol Potter, said: “We have seen an unprecedented response from those looking to arrange their annual flu jab over the last few days.

"While this is encouraging, we are aware that many people have experienced difficulties getting through to the dedicated phone line.

"We are very sorry that our systems and processes have not been adequate and effective enough to deal with the demand and would want to reassure the public of Fife that we are taking steps to rectify this.

"We accept that on this occasion our planning was not sufficient, and we should have been better prepared to deal with the level of calls experienced.

“We appreciate this has caused understandable anxiety for some members of the public and we would like to offer our sincere apologies to those affected. We also want to thank local people for the understanding shown thus far and ask for their continued patience in the coming days.

"Please be assured there is no shortage of appointments available, and all of those who are eligible to receive their flu jab will have the opportunity to do so ahead of flu season.

"We would encourage members of the public to hold off calling if they cannot get through immediately in the next few days and to try again next week when we will have increased our call-handling capacity.”