Quarantine exemption system still in disarray - Chamberlain

The IT system responsible for transferring patient information regarding Covid vaccinations across the four UK nations, and for sharing that data with the EU travel scheme, is still not working. MP Wendy Chamberlain has reported.

After raising the issue on behalf of three PHD students at the University of St Andrews, who reported that their first vaccine dose received in England did not show up on the Scottish quarantine exemption system, several more cases have been raised with the North East Fife MP. One of the three students, Giulia Benedetta Calabrese, missed her brother's wedding in Switzerland due to the error.

In one case, it was reported that armed forces personnel at Leuchars have also experienced problems because vaccines received on the base are registered by NHS England while jags received off the base come under NHS Scotland.

Another EU resident, who is also a PHD student, contacted Ms Chamberlain to comment that vaccines received in Scotland also did not show up on the QR code for the EU's app, while those received under NHS England do. Officials told them that the app requires a vaccine batch number, which is not provided to patients receiving their dose under NHS Scotland. The student also reported that other colleagues were experiencing similar problems.

NHS England and NHS Scotland told Wendy Chamberlain that a procedure is now in place to share vaccine data across the four nations of the UK but to-date none of the cases raised by the MP have been resolved. 

Public Health Scotland advised that people experiencing this problem should contact the COVID-19 status helpline. In some cases, however, helpline staff are claiming that there is still no transfer of data and that they cannot help, while others are still awaiting a resolution despite being informed the case has been escalated.

Giulia Benedetta Calabrese said: 

"I was very disappointed to miss my brother's wedding last month, and I cannot believe that I am still not able to travel to see my family and my boyfriend in Europe, given that I am fully vaccinated and most restrictions have been lifted for people in my situation.

"I tried to contact NHS England again, but they told me they could not find my record on their system because I am not registered with a GP in England and referred me to NHS Scotland. When I phoned NHS Scotland, the person said that I should solve my problem exclusively through NHS England because NHS Scotland only deals with Scottish vaccines. I tried to explain the whole situation but he wouldn’t listen and kept saying that it’s not their problem.

"I don’t want to keep missing out on life events just because of a bureaucratic problem that has apparently no solution! I’m really very frustrated by this situation and by the fact that nobody wants to take responsibility. I didn’t do anything wrong, but it feels like I'm being punished for a reason that I cannot understand."

Wendy Chamberlain added: 

"The quarantine exemption scheme was unnecessary to start with and is still in complete disarray. The system has created needless confusion for thousands of people wishing to travel and visit loved ones on the continent.

"On top of that, our governments and health care systems across the four nations of the UK appear to be working completely separately. Without any coordination or clear guidance for people who have received jags under different services.

"I have contacted NHS Scotland, NHS England, the Scottish Health Secretary, Public Health Scotland and the national vaccine helpline about this matter and each one has told me something completely different, while at the same time failing to offer any solutions for people currently trapped by this bungled scheme."

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