Pensioner, 75, turned away from cruise after 'broken' COVID app stopped him proving vaccination

·3 min read
Malcolm Walker, from Kirkcaldy, was left unable to depart on a cruise after having issues with the COVID Passport app. (SWNS)
Malcolm Walker, from Kirkcaldy, was left unable to depart on a cruise after having issues with the COVID Passport app. (SWNS)

A pensioner lost nearly £4,000 on a cruise after he and his wife were refused permission to board because he could not access the NHS COVID app.

Malcolm Walker, 75, missed the 11-day cruise to Portugal, Spain and Gibraltar with his wife on 18 April because he couldn't access the NHS Scotland COVID Status app proving that they were both triple jabbed.

He said staff refused to let the couple board, leaving them around £3,800 out of pocket for the cruise, insurance, travel to and from Southampton from their home in Kirkcaldy, Fife, as well as hotels and parking.

Walker said the app had been working the day before they were due to set sail but when they tried to board, was undergoing a ‘security update’ which meant he couldn’t access his vaccination status.

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."

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

But he said on the day of their departure, NHS Scotland increased a "verification level" on its app - meaning users need to have updated their iOS operating system to a certain level - which left the couple unable to access it on their older phones.

"Preparing to board, we were astounded to find that we could not access the app, so we were denied access to the cruise," he said.

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The 75-year-old said he had previously tried to obtain paper copies of his and his wife's vaccination status without success because he didn't have his wife's email address.

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

"This affair has cost me a lot of money," he added. "We have been in touch with our insurance company, but feel it is unfair for them to recompense 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."

Walker claims  he is around ££3,800 out of pocket for the cruise, insurance, travel to and from Southampton from his home in Kirkcaldy, Fife, hotels, and parking. (SWNS)
Walker claims he is around ££3,800 out of pocket for the cruise, insurance, travel to and from Southampton from his home in Kirkcaldy, Fife, hotels, and parking. (SWNS)

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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