Information Commissioner's Office
Nursing auxiliary fined for unlawfully accessing patient records
A nursing auxiliary has been fined for accessing a patient’s medical records without a valid legal reason.
Marian Waddell, 61, was working at the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport when she unlawfully accessed the records of the patient, who was known to her, on six occasions between July 2015 and February 2016. She did so without a valid business reason and without the knowledge of the data controller, the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board.
Waddell, of Walsall Street, Newport, admitted unlawfully accessing personal data in breach of s55 of the Data Protection Act 1998 when she appeared at Cwmbran Magistrates’ Court. She was fined £232 and was ordered to pay £150 costs as well as a £30 victim surcharge.
Of the eight criminal prosecutions the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has brought in 2017 against NHS employees for breaching patient privacy, three have been in Wales.
David Teague, the ICO’s Regional Manager for Wales, said:
“It is disappointing that we continue to see people getting into serious trouble over behaviour which is so easily avoidable. Staff training, and the publicity around previous cases of this nature, means that they really should know better.
“This is not an issue that is confined to Wales or the NHS - anyone whose work allows them to access sensitive personal data needs to realise that this information is out of bounds unless you have a valid and legal reason for looking at it.”
A related blog was published yesterday.
Notes to Editors
- The Information Commissioner’s Office upholds information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.
- The ICO has specific responsibilities set out in the Data Protection Act 1998, the Freedom of Information Act 2000, Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.
- The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new law that will replace the Data Protection Act 1998 and will apply in the UK from 25 May 2018. The government has confirmed that the UK’s decision to leave the EU will not affect the commencement of the GDPR.
- The ICO can take action to change the behaviour of organisations and individuals that collect, use and keep personal information. This includes criminal prosecution, non-criminal enforcement and audit. The ICO has the power to impose a monetary penalty on a data controller of up to £500,000.
- Anyone who processes personal information must comply with eight principles of the Data Protection Act, which make sure that personal information is:
- fairly and lawfully processed;
- processed for limited purposes;
- adequate, relevant and not excessive;
- accurate and up to date;
- not kept for longer than is necessary;
- processed in line with your rights;
- secure; and
- not transferred to other countries without adequate protection.
- Civil Monetary Penalties (CMPs) are subject to a right of appeal to the (First-tier Tribunal) General Regulatory Chamber against the imposition of the monetary penalty and/or the amount of the penalty specified in the monetary penalty notice.
- Any monetary penalty is paid into the Treasury’s Consolidated Fund and is not kept by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
- To report a concern to the ICO telephone our helpline 0303 123 1113 or go to ico.org.uk/concerns.
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