NHS Contract Tracing App is Delayed Again, Now Due in Extra-Vague 'Coming Weeks'

By Tom Pritchard on at

Back at the end of April the government announced that the impending NHS track and trace app "could be ready in three weeks" which puts the original release estimate sometime in May. But May came and went with the date being pushed back to some point in mid-June. Now we're back to the extra-vague coming weeks timeframe.

According to The Times the app is now supposed to be ready for launch in time for the lockdown lift that Boris has outlined for the start of July. That glorious time when we can get our hairs cut and start going to the cinema to watch the two films that might be available. The contact-tracing app was originally supposed to be key to letting people back out, but as it turns out the whole contact tracing system has been such a shit-show that hasn't happened yet.

It's not clear what the delay is this time, though The Times claims Whitehall sources have been talking about refining the service after feedback from both the Isle of Wight trial and the manual track and trace system that did launch last month as planned.

One such change is apparently deciding what to do about existing 'amber' alerts, which warn people when they've come in contact with a symptomatic person that hasn't had a positive COVID-19 test. Users complained they couldn't really do much with the information, and all the amber alert did was raise their anxiety.

Though we're still not convinced the delay isn't because the idea has been a mess from the get-go, and we wouldn't be surprised if the developers at NHSX have been rushing to make sure everything actually works. And hopefully in a way that doesn't turn out to be a PR and privacy-driven nightmare.

But then again it's already turned out that way, especially considering the NHS is going to be holding identifiable data that you have absolutely zero control over.

Anyway, the finer details of the launch are all in the hands of ministers. Which doesn't exactly inspire much confidence. Not that it matters much anyway, considering the full track and trace system isn't set to be ready until September. [The Times]

Photo by Derick Anies on Unsplash