politics

Matt Hancock says NHS app 'important' to show vaccine proof for overseas travel


Ministers are “working on” plans to allow double-jabbed Brits to skip quarantine after visiting amber-list countries, Matt Hancock has said.

And the Health Secretary said using the NHS app it was “important” because it would allow people to give proof of vaccination and test status when visiting other countries.

But it comes as privacy campaigners raised fresh concerns about the Government’s use of patient data.

Mr Hancock said ministers were “working on” plans for quarantine-free travel for double-vaccinated Britons.

“This hasn’t been clinically advised yet – we’re working on it,” he told Sky News.

“We’re working on plans to essentially allow the vaccine to bring back some of the freedoms that have had to be restricted to keep people safe.

“After all, that’s the whole purpose of the vaccination programme, that’s why it’s so important that every adult goes out and gets the jab.”

Asked if these plans could be in place as soon as August, the Health Secretary replied: “We’ll get there when it’s safe to do so.”

Mr Hancock said the main NHS App, which is different from the Covid-19 App, is “important” as countries are likely to need proof of vaccination status of Britons travelling abroad.

“We can now, all of us, see our vaccine status, see your testing status, on the NHS App,” he told Sky News.



Matt Hancock
Matt Hancock



Passengers arriving at Heathrow
Passengers arriving at Heathrow

“Six million people have now downloaded the main NHS App and on that you can show whether you have had the jabs.

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“It’s important because we know other countries are going to say that they want proof that you have been vaccinated before you go.

“So, when travel is opened up, we are going to make sure people have got that ability to prove it.”

It comes as NHSX published its draft strategy for health data collection and use.

The strategy says patients will be able to access their own medical information, including medication lists, procedures and care plans from different parts of the health system through various patient apps.

But it includes controversial plans to allow private companies access to GP data, which has raised concerns among privacy campaigners.

Campaign group Foxglove warned the data potentially being shared is “highly sensitive” – and won’t be entirely anonymous.

In a campaign statement, they said: “They include information on things like depression, autism, sexually transmitted infections, erectile dysfunction, and addiction – all to be made available for planning and research, including commercial research.

“The data is ‘pseudonymous’, but this is quite different from anonymous. It means peoples’ identities will be disguised but could later be re-identified.

“The government has said little about what safeguards will protect this info – or on what terms corporations will access it.”

Mr Hancock said the Government is “on track” for the July 19 easing of restrictions, but acknowledged that opening up travel abroad is “more difficult”.

“Thankfully, because of the vaccination programme, we have been able to free up a huge number of the restrictions here at home,” he told Sky News.

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“We are on track to deliver the Step 4, the further openings, on July 19, which is good.

“We are also looking to see how we can replace the protections that are currently there with the restrictions with protections that come from the vaccine, with respect to international travel as well.

“But it is more difficult freeing up international travel.”





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