NHS App Access Still ‘Weeks’ Away

Health and Social Care Minister David Ashford has said he expects Manx residents to be able to use the NHS England app to prove their vaccine status ‘in a matter of weeks’.

There has been growing anger on the island over the time taken for residents to be granted full use of the service, particularly with the school holidays now here and families wanting to go abroad to some countries which are insisting on proof of vaccination.

Responding to a question about the progress of the rollout of the NHS Digital App from Lib Vannin leader Lawrie Hooper, Mr Ashford told Tynwald that the gov has had to wait behind Wales but is ‘now in intense discussions with the NHS Digital team’.

He added: ‘There are three workstreams in the planning, which includes;

  1. Legal documentation – the IoM is dependent on the U.K. providing this information for the AG’s Chambers to review. This is currently the biggest risk to the rollout and we await the full suite of paperwork from the UK.
  2. Business change processes – this includes the mapping of the service IoM residents will receive, the processes the UK will undertake and how the manual letters if needed will be issued. Workshops are underway with the U.K. in this respect and we expect to mirror the U.K. service in full
  3. The Technical transfer/processes. The teams have been working on this for some time, and subject to final testing from the U.K. we believe this element is complete.’

An interim solution where Manx Care would provide a letter to confirm vaccine status was announced early this week, however, this comes with no guarantee that they will be accepted by countries around the world, or even in Europe. The NHS App is being seen as being the internationally recognised proof for vaccines across the UK and Crown Dependencies.

You do not need any vaccine proof to travel from the island to the UK, but people coming to the island either need to be able to prove their vaccine status to access a testing exemption or be prepared to go through a PCR test after their arrival and isolate until receiving the results.

The Health Minister added: ‘The DHSC and wider government colleagues will continue to keep the programme focused on the work with the UK NHS Digital team and we hope to have this complete in a matter of weeks. Updates are given to the Council of Ministers each week and we are aware that the UK political system supports the importance of this rollout for IoM residents.’

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