Apps, News

NHS app news: UK and EU agree COVID pass deal, half of people in England can access digital healthcare

NHSX has revealed the details of a new COVID-19 vaccination pass agreement, which aims to help simplify travel across Europe.

A deal has been made for the UK and EU to digitally verify each other’s COVID vaccination certificates, which should make it easier for UK citizens to be admitted to museums, restaurants, and other venues across the EU where proof of vaccination is required for entry.

Most countries in the union do currently accept the UK’s COVID vaccine certificates but only a few are able to scan them. The new agreement will allow the UK and all of the EU member states to digitally verify their citizens’ COVID vaccination status using the EU Digital COVID Certificate (DCC) gateway.

The agreement also provides access to non-EU countries linked to the EU DCC gateway, including Norway, Switzerland, Israel and Iceland.

The pass will benefit those with the NHS COVID Pass in England and Wales, as well as those with certificates provided by Northern Ireland, Scotland and the Crown Dependencies, which include Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.

Travellers should refresh their digital passes, which are either downloaded to an Apple Wallet or as PDFs, to make sure they are up to date when visiting EU member states and countries linked to the EU DCC gateway.

Matthew Gould, CEO of NHSX, which is leading the NHS COVID Pass Programme, said: “The UK was one of the first countries to launch a digital pass solution, and the NHS COVID Pass is already recognised by over 80 countries and territories across the world.

“This news will add yet more countries to that list, simplifying international travel for COVID Pass users and enabling digital verification across Europe and beyond.”

Meanwhile, NHS Digital has also released an update on the usage of the NHS App and NHS login, with the organisation estimating that around half of people in England now have access to some form of digital healthcare.

The body revealed a number of interesting stats, including that NHS login now has almost 28 million users – up from around 2.2 million users in September 2020 –  and that more than 16 million people have signed up for the NHS App, making it England’s most popular free application.

Through NHS login, which supports NHS App, users can access 45 apps and e-health services, including e-Referral, COVID-19 support, maternity and child health services, online pharmacies, and health and wellbeing monitoring. However, NHS Digital says the peak time for people setting up an NHS login was in May 2021, when the NHS COVID Pass was launched.

Geographically, the highest proportion of NHS login users are based in London, who account for 22.3 per cent of all users, while 11.7 per cent of users are in the North West.

Melissa Ruscoe, Citizen Identity (NHS login) Programme Head at NHS Digital, said: “We are pleased to see such a massive uptake in people managing their healthcare needs digitally throughout the coronavirus pandemic, with around half of people in England now able to access digital healthcare services through NHS login.

“Through the services integrated with NHS login people can book GP appointments, order lateral flow tests, register their organ donation preferences, and much more. This helps free up valuable time for GP practice staff and provides a simple and efficient way for people to take control of their healthcare and access services easily and securely.”

Emma McLachlan, Director of Digital Experience at NHSX, added: “In the past 18 months the NHS has made huge progress in offering access to care online. Through NHS login, we can give the public direct access to choices, information and services, and help them stay healthy. We will always offer non-digital alternatives, but if you can download the NHS app and haven’t yet done so, please do.”