The National Health Service (NHS) is the umbrella term for the publicly-funded healthcare systems of the United Kingdom. Since 1948 it has been funded out of general taxation. It is made up of the four separate systems of the four countries of the UK: The National Health Service in England, NHS Scotland, NHS Wales, and Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland. They were established together in 1948 as one of the major social reforms following the Second World War. The founding principles were that services should be comprehensive, universal and free at the point of delivery. Each service provides a comprehensive range of health services, free at the point of use for people ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom, apart from dental treatment and optical care. In England, NHS patients have to pay prescription charges with a range of exemptions from these charges.
Each of the UK’s health service systems operates independently, and is politically accountable to the relevant government: the Scottish Government, Welsh Government, Northern Ireland Executive, and the UK Government, responsible for England’s NHS. Since 2013 operational responsibility for the NHS in England has been passed to NHS England.
COVID-19 apps are mobile software applications designed to aid contact tracing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, i.e. the process of identifying persons (“contacts”) who may have been in contact with an infected individual.
Numerous applications were developed or proposed, with official government support in some territories and jurisdictions. Several frameworks for building contact tracing apps have been developed. Privacy concerns have been raised, especially about systems that are based on tracking the geographical location of app users.
Less intrusive alternatives include the use of Bluetooth signals to log a user’s proximity to other cellphones. On 10 April 2020, Google and Apple jointly announced that they would integrate functionality to support such Bluetooth-based apps directly into their Android and iOS operating systems.