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Saturday, December 12, 2020

December 12, 2020

NHS appointment booking app MyGP will add the feature which it says would allow pubs and theatres to bar entry to the unvaccinated

A private company is rolling out an app which would show who has had a Covid-19 vaccine.

NHS appointment booking app MyGP will add the feature which it says would allow pubs and theatres to bar entry to the unvaccinated.

The idea is controversial as it allows patients to be discriminated against due to their medical records.

The Government had been considering whether the official NHS Covid-19 app should add such a feature but faced a furious backlash from civil liberty campaigners.

But from February it will be rolled out by the MyGP app - billed as “the UK’s largest independent GP booking and healthcare management app”.

The app available throughout England will display vaccination status within the patient profile page with a green tick.

The tick will appear 21 days following the final vaccine dose generated directly from medical records, for which the app has access.

MyGP is developed by London-based company iPLATO Healthcare which is one of hundreds of private tech companies allowed in to the NHS under Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

Due to its NHS accreditation, the app can display medical records, request repeat prescriptions, book GP appointments and allow users to purchase private health treatments.

The firm says its ‘myGP TICKet’ function will “allow businesses whose viability depends upon operating at capacity – such as the arts and hospitality sectors – the ability to open either full or part-time to vaccinated individuals, without the need to observe strict social distancing rules”.

Sam Grant, campaign manager at Liberty, said: “We should all be able to live our lives free from unnecessary interference.

“But any form of immunity passport risks creating a two-tier system in which some of us have access to freedoms and support while others are shut out.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said they were looking at displaying vaccine status on apps.

Cabinet Minister Michael Gove then said the Government has “no plans” for immunity passports based on who has been vaccinated.

Sam Grant added: “The Government has been right to distance itself from talk of immunity passports to date.

“These systems could result in people who don’t have immunity potentially being blocked from essential public services, work or housing – with the most marginalised among us hardest hit.

“This has wider implications too because any form of immunity passport could pave the way for a full ID system – an idea which has repeatedly been rejected as incompatible with building a rights-respecting society.

“We have always supported proportionate action to protect lives, but that must not come at the expense of our rights and freedoms.”

However some experts argue it is unfair to restrict the lives members of the public who can prove they pose no health risk.

Dr William Budd, of Imperial College has been involved in Covid-19 vaccine trials at Imperial and Oxford University.

He said: “Speeding up a return to normal with this technology and a vaccine that looks to prevent transmission is a brilliant combination.

“myGP’s data tells us that a further 23% of the British public would change their minds and have the vaccine if it meant a return to normal and it is the power of digital health technology that is enabling that.”

The app currently has access to medical records.

The only way it could be prevented from rolling out this vaccine status feature is if the NHS decided to prevent this from being routinely added to the medical record.

Industry figures have backed the app to open up society for those who are vaccinated.

Katie Coull, director at Artists for Essential Workers, said: “Being unable to operate at capacity has been absolutely crippling for artists and arts venues alike.

“The ability to fill a venue to capacity, even just part of the time, would make a world of difference to the organisations who provide Britain’s cultural lifeblood.

“We are fully in support of anything that can open our doors earlier than planned.”

James Balfour, chief executive of fitness brand 1Rebel, said: “Gyms have been one of the casualties of the lockdowns and tier-systems, despite low transmission rates, and the well-known physical and the mental health benefits it brings.

“Any solution that will help group exercise in particular get back to business safely, will be very welcome.”


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