NHS app downloads spike after COVID jab status update
The NHS App has soared in popularity since it was updated in May to allow people to record their COVID-19 vaccination status, with more than 2 million new signups taking the total number of users to 6 million.
The app – which should not be confused with the NHS COVID-19 track and trace app – was used by five million people in the last month, according to the Department of Health and Social Care.
On 17 May, the app started allowing people to record their COVID-19 vaccinations in order to generate a QR code that could be used for international travel or to sign into entertainment or sporting events like the Euro 2020 finals. Users can also record the results of any recent coronavirus tests.
The app rolled out in 2019 after being piloted in 30 GP practices across England, and can also be used to book appointments, order repeat prescriptions, and access medical records.
The take-up of the NHS has also had a knock-on effect on organ donation, with 51,000 people registering their donation preferences via the app since 17 May, more than five times the level seen in April.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said the sign-ups underline how technology can play a role in the delivery of healthcare, adding: "it is vital we embrace the momentum we have built in using technology…over the last year as we look beyond the pandemic to improve treatment, care and the experiences of patients".
More than 614,000 repeat prescriptions have been ordered using the app since 17 May, and more than 50,000 GP appointments booked, which could save patients and clinicians valuable time, according to the DHSC.
The app is said to be one of the first internationally compliant systems in the world to demonstrate vaccine status for travel, and has been designed in line with World Health Organization (WHO) interim guidance, said the government.
Several countries, including popular tourist destinations like Greece and Turkey, have agreed to use the NHS App as a vaccination certificate for travel.
However, guidance on the UK government website says that there are "not many countries that currently accept proof of vaccination. So for the time being, most people will still need to follow other rules when travelling abroad – like getting a negative pre-departure test."