Scottish ministers declined an offer to join the Covid vaccine passport app used in England and Wales before opting to set up their own alternative, which has been hit by glitches.
The NHS Scotland Covid Status app has been beset by technical issues since its release on Thursday evening, just hours before the passport scheme was set to go live at 5am on Friday.
Many users have reported being unable to verify their identities on the app to certify their double-jagged status, required for access to large events and venues.
Too many people trying to access the app simultaneously has been blamed for the problems, with the Scottish Government saying more than 70,000 people downloaded it on Thursday.
We know some people are having issues setting up the NHS Scotland Covid Status app.
This is likely due to lots of people using the NHS systems the app links to at once.
Please be patient and try again later.
If this doesn't work, visit https://t.co/6zC1SinJyo for more options.
— Scottish Government (@scotgov) October 1, 2021
A grace period means venues will not be liable for enforcement action before October 18 to allow the system to settle, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said earlier this week.
The UK Government confirmed Scottish ministers were offered the option to use the NHS Covid Pass via the NHS app but developed their own solution instead.
The Scottish Government said it was told it would “take at least 12 months to get access to the NHS log-in” required for the NHS app, saying England and Wales share more infrastructure.
The Daily Mail, which first reported the story, said Scotland’s app was developed by Danish IT firm Netcompany, after being appointed in June by NHS National Services Scotland with a contract worth up to £600,000.
The Scottish Conservatives have sharply criticised the Government over the matter, with leader Douglas Ross saying: “This is becoming an omnishambles – the SNP’s scheme is lurching from one issue to the next, all at the very last minute.”
Tory MSP for North East Scotland Maurice Golden added on Twitter: “The SNP ignored warnings about their vaccine passports scheme. Rushed it out at the last minute. And now the Health Secretary is advising people to ignore it. You couldn’t make it up.”
Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf has said people should be admitted to nightclubs and football stadiums this weekend without the certification as part of the “bedding in” delay.
He told Bauer Radio: “We delayed enforcement of the certification scheme because we wanted to make sure that the system had time to bed in, to set in, to test in.
“Therefore there’s nothing within the regulations that means you should be turned away from the nightclub door or turned away from the turnstiles this weekend.”
The Scottish Government said on Friday that it had “increased the capacity of the NHS systems that sit behind the app”, adding: “As a result, we are seeing increasing numbers of people now able to access their records.”
A UK Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: “We have worked closely with the devolved administrations to make it as easy as possible for people across the UK to access their Covid-19 vaccine status.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “England and Wales share some of their infrastructure, which is why Wales can use the NHS app.
“We don’t have the NHS log-in required for the app in England and were informed it would take at least 12 months to be able to get access to the NHS log-in.’