Vaccine status prompts millions to download NHS app

Written by Sam Trendall on 24 May 2021 in News

Figures show program is adding about 100,000 new users per day

Credit: PA

Since it was announced that the NHS app would provide citizens with certification of coronavirus vaccination, about 100,000 people per day have signed up with the digital platform.

The app already allowed users to access records of vaccinations they had received and, earlier this month, the government confirmed reports that it would include a dedicated service for Covid jabs designed to meet requirements for international travel. The improved functionality represents “one of the first internationally compliant systems in the world to demonstrate vaccine status… and has been designed in line with World Health Organization interim guidance”, the government said.

Since it was formally announced that digital vaccination certification would be made available through the app – and not, as many had expected, the NHS Covid-19 contact-tracing app – more than 1.3 million people have registered in the space of two weeks.

Total registered users now stand at 4.8 million.

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This indicates that the number of sign-ups also massively increased during the pandemic.

As of March 2020 – 15 months after the app had been released – it had only been downloaded 250,000 times. The additional 2.25 million people that signed up between then and May 2021 can, perhaps, be partly chalked up to the increased demand for remote access to NHS services.

It also seems likely that a degree of confusion between the core NHS app and the contact-tracing program – which had attracted 22 million users in a matter of weeks following its September release – may have boosted uptake.

Whatever prompted them to sign up, almost five million patients can now use the app to book GP appointments, access their medical records, order repeat prescriptions, join the organ donation register, or submit preferences for how their data is used.

Last week, almost 3,000 people each day registered their preferences regarding organ donation. This equates to a tenfold rise compared with April.

The average number of GP appointments being booked per day, meanwhile, has doubled to 2,000, while the daily amount of prescriptions ordered via the app has risen by almost 10,000 to 22,355.

Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock, said: “The strides in technology and innovation we’ve made throughout the pandemic are having real consequences beyond fighting this virus – they’re making treatment, diagnosis and care better for patients. I want to thank all my colleagues at NHSX and NHS Digital who helped us to deliver the COVID -19 vaccine status service so quickly. The pace we’ve brought this to fruition is unparalleled and it is bringing immediate benefits to our wider health service. I encourage everyone to download the NHS app, it will help you access a host of services.”

NHSX chief executive Matthew Gould added: “This has been stood up in a matter of weeks, by a team working every hour to ensure we delivered a user-friendly service on time. We are really pleased with how it’s been received, and even more pleased to see it get so many people using the online services of the NHS.”


About the author

Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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