'Immensely frustrating': NHS COVID app outage sees users unable to access COVID passes

The NHS app and website experienced an outage on Wednesday afternoon, with users unable to access their digital COVID vaccine passes, NHS Digital said. One traveller told Sky News she had missed her f

'Immensely frustrating': NHS COVID app outage sees users unable to access COVID passes

The NHS app and website experienced an outage on Wednesday afternoon, with users unable to access their digital COVID vaccine passes, NHS Digital said.

One traveller told Sky News she had missed her flight to France as a result of the app crashing.

An NHS COVID Pass shows proof of a coronavirus vaccination as well as test results.

NHS Digital confirmed the service had been restored just after 4pm.

'Potent' variant-beating antibody discovered - COVID news

But some panicked NHS app users with imminent travel plans were forced to pay for new flights after being unable to board without proof of vaccination.

Caroline Frost, a journalist and broadcaster, told Sky News she had a choice of paying £420 for an express PCR test and a flight later this evening or £80 to fly out tomorrow.

She was due to fly from Heathrow to Nice on business but has now rebooked to leave on Thursday.

"I had all this previous documentation, but there was nothing they could do," she said.

"There is proof I have been through this many times, I have ticked all the boxes, I don't have COVID, I have a double vaccination test in my hand, I just don't have the app.

Caroline Frost returned home after being unable to board her flight
Image: Caroline Frost returned home after being unable to board her flight

"It was a jobsworth moment. She said I sympathise, but there is nothing I can do. She phoned her superior, there was nothing he could do. There we were.

"It was immensely frustrating, and it felt like such a waste of money. And of course, when the app is up and running I am the same person, I'm going to be in the same condition of vaccinated eligibility to travel."

People travelling abroad or attending events and venues in England may be asked for proof of their COVID-19 status, which is why instant access to the COVID Pass is important.

Earlier this month, Scotland's newly launched vaccine passport app was also hit by technical problems, meaning people are unable to register their details on it.

People attending large events and nightclubs in Scotland now need to show proof using the app that they have had two doses of vaccine before they are allowed in, but just hours after the app's launch, social media users said they were unable to register on it.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

PM refuses to rule out vaccine passports

Last month, Boris Johnson said the government wants to avoid the introduction of COVID vaccine passports in England "if we possibly can", but added they would be an option to be kept "in reserve".