The Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the Queen’s Medical Centre (QMC) and Nottingham City Hospital, has admitted that there have been 29 recorded cases of patient confidentiality being breached in the last three years, the worst of any hospital trust in the country. The main offences were the breach of data protection laws through patients’ details being accessed or passed on to a third party.
The material was compiled between July 25th 2008 and July 25th 2011 through Freedom of Information requests sent to every NHS Trust in the UK and collected by the organisation Big Brother Watch. The results were subsequently published in a report entitled ‘NHS Breaches of Protection Law’ which exposed the string of incidents at the NUH NHS Trust, 11 of which involved medical personnel.
Of the 29 cases found, a range of punishments were given. Eight employees were dismissed, one for posting a picture of a patient on Facebook. Six were given warnings and another five received informal action. One person, with the additional charge of damaging trust property, resigned. However, in nine instances it was found that there was no case to investigate.
Ginny Klein, Chairman of the Joint Health Scrutiny Committee, was unable to explain why the NUH’s record was so bad compared to the rest of the UK. In a statement, she said: “It’s hard to comment on why that might be. All staff employed within the hospitals have to sign up to patient confidentiality so something is obviously going wrong somewhere.”
Peter Homa, Chief Executive of NUH, reassured the public that the Trust does all it can to “fully investigate all claims”, and that it took appropriate action when certain cases were deemed serious. He added: “We will continue to deal severely with anyone who breaches [patient confidentiality].”