The instruction was straightforward “We are now required BY LAW to be able to evidence your COVID vaccine status. You now all have access to COVID passports which is a document from the NHS stipulating your vaccination status. All I ask is that you bring a copy of the letter to put on file as part of your evidence to be vaccinated.”
The government has put a deadline of 11th of November for all care home workers (such as myself) to provide evidence of double vaccination otherwise they will no longer be allowed to work. Putting aside the ethical arguments, I have two months to get this sorted.
I started with the NHS website and spent a frustrating 20 mins going round in circles. It seemed like every page contradicted every other one and was impossibly hard to navigate. The only pass I could actually get was a QR code that expired after 48 hours which was not particularly useful.
The crux of the problem is as follows:
- A letter can only be sent to the address registered by your GP, however I am not at that address.
- Temporarily registering with a new GP just to receive a letter seems a waste of everyone’s time and a lot of admin.
- In order to register with a GP, I need to fill in forms, present myself for a check up and bring a valid passport.
- My passport has expired and costs £77.50 to renew which I can not afford.
Luckily the government have been kind enough to set up a ‘helpline’ where I can speak to an actual human by ringing 119. Straight away I was plunged into the hell of automated menus and guess what, none of the options applied. It took more than seven mins to get out of this robotic hell and speak to a human being (a lovely Scottish lady named Lucy). I wonder how much aggravation people like Lucy have to put up with by people apoplectic with rage caused by pressing 1 to get something unhelpful, 2 to get cut off or 3 to hear this message again.
Anyway, Lucy happily told me that the easiest way round all this was through the NHS app where I can get a letter sent without all this fuss. I was suspicious but gave it a try. Since I still can’t work my new phone (which I have had since January) I am back to downloading on to my antique ipod touch, a device so old they no longer provide updates. However against all the odds it worked. The app downloaded and opened without a hitch, well that was until I realised that the app was identical to the website and I was no further along with something that was supposed to be easy.
So back to 119 I went. I vaguely remember somebody on the radio saying the best way to speak to a human quickly is always press ‘0’ no matter what the options. I gave this a go and heard a whole different set of things from last time but it still took 7 mins before I spoke to a person.
This time it was a very well-spoken man who listened patiently while I ranted on about the stupidity of registering with a new GP just to get a letter in the post. However, it seems like there really is no alternative to this, letters can only be sent to the address held on a GP’s file. Trying to be constructive he suggested that perhaps I could set up a Royal Mail forwarding service so the letter can get to me (costing £33.99), meaning yet more admin though a lower cost than a new passport.
Then in an unexpected twist, he recognised me as we had crossed paths years ago on a cruise ship. I remembered the name but have no recollection of ever meeting him, then while we were still on the phone, I got a notification from a very old facebook account I no longer have access to (I forgot the password and don’t care enough to sort it out). He had sent me a message.
‘Have you just sent me a message?’ I asked, knowing the answer already. Then straight away another notification arrived saying the message had been unsent. Presumably he realised that sending unauthorised messages to users of the NHS helpline is against GDPR law.
By now I was totally overwhelmed so I did the only thing I could think of make this problem go away. I handed in my notice at work.
To be continued….