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Matt Hancock set to announce NHS contact tracing app will be ditched for new model

The NHS app has been delayed repeatedly

2 min read

Matt Hancock is expected to announce the NHS will scrap the current version of its contact tracing app in favour of a new model, it has been reported.

According to the BBC and the Sun, the Health Secretary is planning to set out a "new approach" for the delayed tech project which ministers have insisted is crucial to its coronavirus response.

It comes after health minister Lord Bethell told MPs on Wednesday that the app was no longer a government "priority" and warned the roll-out could be delayed until winter.

The app, which is being designed to warn users if they could have come into close contact with an infected person, had also been criticised by some tech campaigners over fears around the protection of personal information.

It is expected the current centralised version being developed by the NHS will now be replaced with a new platform based on technology developed by Apple and Google.

A source told the Sun the new app will "take the pros from both and get rid of the cons".

Health Secretary Matt Hancock had initially earmarked a late May launch for the Government-backed app, which was intended to play a key role in the national “test and trace” strategy to combat Covid-19.

The Cabinet minister said at the time that the public had a "duty" to download the application — currently being trialled on the Isle of Wight — to their devices when it becomes available.

But reports of the planned U-turn come just a day after it was revealed that former Apple executive Simon Thompson had been asked to take charge of the product following repeated missed deadlines.

Responding to the news, Lib Dem acting leader Ed Davey, said: "The Government have been told for months their app wouldn’t work but the ploughed on regardless, acting like they knew best.

"These delays could have cost lives. We need an urgent independent inquiry into the Government’s handling of this pandemic."

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