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NHS App reaches six million users, thanks to Covid vaccine feature

More than two million new users have downloaded the NHS App since it was updated in May to include Covid-19 vaccination status

The NHS App can now boast more than six million users around the UK, having added 2,737,842 new users since a 17 May update that added an individual’s Covid-19 vaccination status data, according to the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC).

Not to be confused with the controversial Covid-19 contact-tracing app, the service enables users to engage with multiple aspects of their healthcare, including booking GP appointments, ordering repeat prescriptions, and indicating organ donor preferences. It also provides access to GP health records including allergies, medicines prescribed and test results, and general health advice.

“Technology undoubtedly plays a huge role in how we deliver healthcare now and in the future and it is great to see so many people downloading, using and benefiting from the NHS App,” said health secretary Matt Hancock.

“It is vital we embrace the momentum we have built in using technology and innovation in the health and care sector over the last year as we look beyond the pandemic to improve treatment, care and the experiences of patients.”

Innovation minister Lord Bethell added: “The NHS App is a fantastic tool that allows people to not only access their Covid-19 vaccine status, but also access NHS services more easily. It is great to see over six million users now registered on the app and it is a prime example of how technology can make the health service more efficient and easier to access. I encourage those who have not yet done so to download it and see the benefits for yourself.”

The DHSC said more than five million distinct users had logged into the app in the past month alone, with over 50,000 GP appointments booked, 600,000 prescriptions requested, and 50,000 new organ donors registered, with a potentially life-saving impact – registering a preference helps NHS specialists quickly understand and enact people’s wishes should they die, saving and improving thousands of other lives.

By comparison, the DHSC revealed that in April 2021 the app saw 1,521,361 distinct logins, 30,238 GP appointments booked and 393,009 prescriptions requested.

As noted, a big part of the app’s recent spike in usage has been the addition of Covid-19 vaccine status – also known as a vaccine passport – which was first announced at the end of April ahead of an update in May, despite widespread privacy concerns.

The update made the app one of the first internationally compliant systems in the world to demonstrate Covid-19 vaccine status, enabling travellers to easily demonstrate they have had a jab, if needed.

The Covid-19 status service was stood up in weeks, by a team working flat-out to deliver on time an important service for users,” said NHSX chief executive Matthew Gould. “It has been good to see it used to open up sporting events, facilitate travel, and encourage the use of NHS services online.”

Read more about vaccine passports

  • Privacy campaigners warn that vaccine passports may turn out to be discriminatory and invasive, while technologists agree careful consideration must be given to their design.
  • What are the security challenges presented by vaccine passports, and how should they be designed and used with ethics and privacy in mind?

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