A total of £3.9m is being spent by the health board on rent for five venues in the region, including mass vaccination centres at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) and the Royal Highland Centre in Edinburgh, a Freedom of Information request has shown.
An additional £5m has been spent by the health board in fitting out, facilities management and legal costs for the locations, which have been at the centre of the Scottish Government’s vaccination rollout.
Despite this cost, Edinburgh has lagged behind the rest of the country in vaccination rates, with 30.4 per cent of the population in the Scottish capital receiving their first dose of the vaccine, behind all 31 other council areas.
In Edinburgh, the venues which are charging NHS Lothian for vaccinations are the EICC in central Edinburgh, which is ultimately owned by Edinburgh City Council, the Royal Highland Centre in Ingliston, and the Royal Bank of Scotland’s Younger Building in the Gyle.
The health board is also being charged to use the Queen Margaret University Campus in Musselburgh and the Pyramids Business Park in Bathgate.
It has been reported the cost for the use of the EICC is £2m. However, it is understood that figure is not considered to be accurate due to being the maximum amount payable.
Due to dips in supply and the vaccine rollout not requiring the use of the whole venue, the cost is understood to be less than £2m.
However, in response to the Freedom of Information request, NHS Lothian did not respond to questions about the amount charged by each individual venue.
Royal Bank of Scotland said they had provided their building, cleaning maintenance and daytime security for free.
Scottish Conservative MSP Miles Briggs said it was “vital” vaccination rollout continues at full pace.
He said: “It is clear that setting up and running Covid-19 mass vaccination centres in NHS Lothian has been extremely expensive.
“Protecting people from this cruel virus and getting the economy in Edinburgh and the Lothians open again as fast as possible is crucial to start the recovery across Scotland.
“People are coming to the end of their tether and it is vital that the vaccination rollout keeps up momentum, so that we can start to see loved ones again in person, which will make this significant investment worthwhile.
“A huge thank you to all the NHS Lothian staff, armed forces and volunteers who have been involved in getting vaccinations centres up and running.”
A spokesperson for NHS Lothian said: “We have worked closely with our partner venues to ensure that we got the best value possible for the NHS. All our venues have provided a large amount of equipment and staff.
"Staff employed at these venues have also carried out work that would have been otherwise carried out by NHS staff at NHS Lothian owned venues.
“NHS Lothian has subjected such costs to analysis by advisers and is satisfied that they are reasonable. We will continue to work with our partners to keep the programme running and appreciate all the support they have provided so far.”