Scots pensioner loses £4k on cruise after NHS app blocks access to vaccine certificate

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A pensioner lost nearly £4,000 on a holiday cruise after being unable to access the NHS covid app to show his vaccination status meant he was refused boarding.

Furious Malcolm Walker, 75, said he missed the 11-day cruise to Portugal, Spain and Gibraltar with his wife on April 18 because of the NHS Scotland Covid Status app.

The pensioner said the app was was undergoing a ‘security update’ which meant he couldn’t access his vaccination status providing him and his wife had been triple jabbed.

He claims staff refused to let them board and said he is around £3,800 out of pocket for the cruise, insurance, travel to and from Southampton, hotels, and parking.

Malcolm, from Kirkcaldy, Fife, said the app had been working the day before they were due to set sail.

He said: “Two days before and the day before I checked the Covid 19 status on my mobile phone and all was well until we reached Southampton.

“The verification level on my iPhone 6 was level 11.4, my wife’s 12.1.

“On the day of departure, NHS Scotland increased the verification level to 13.1.



The couple had booked the voyage departing from Southampton on Easter Sunday
The couple had booked the voyage departing from Southampton on Easter Sunday

“As our phones are older with the information permanently stored, we had no need for the user name or password, and there was no prior warning – we were completely unaware of anything amiss.

“Preparing to board, we were astounded to find that we could not access the app, so we were denied access to the cruise.”

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Earlier in the year Malcolm said he had tried to obtain paper copies of their vaccination status without success.

He said he was told they could not give him the information because they did not have his wife’s email address.

Malcolm said he got no reply from the helpline number, but was able to access the app – and assumed it would work for the cruise.

He added: “This affair has cost me a lot of money.

“We have been in touch with our insurance company, but feel it is unfair for them to reward us when the fault lies with the Scotland’s NHS department and government.

“I would like an apology.

“This happened because they did not inform people of their intentions, but upgraded, and altered the app without thought or consideration as to the possible consequences.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are sorry to hear of Mr Walker’s experience.

“In common with all apps available on the iStore, the NHS Scotland Covid Status App is only available on phones which receive vital security updates and works on all Apple phones released since 2015, providing the user has updated the operating system to at least iOS 13.1 .

“A recent routine security update required by Apple removed unsupported operating systems from being able to support the app.

“Anyone unable to use the app can get a paper copy of their vaccination certificate online or via the Covid Status Helpline on 0808 196 8565.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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