Medical centre data leak investigation after fake secretary claims

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A WEARSIDE doctors’ practice has been investigated over a breach of patient data protection.

Church View Medical Centre, in Silksworth, Sunderland, was contacted by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) after relatives of a cancer patient raised concerns about an alleged “impersonation” of a secretary.

During a telephone conversation, it was claimed that a doctor disclosed personal medical information to an unknown unauthorised person.

Bosses at City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, who oversee the practice, admitted protocols and procedures had not been followed and pledged to improve training. They have also apologised to the family affected by the blunder.

The ICO, which found that the trust did not take appropriate security steps to deal with an unsolicited call, has now requested that the centre review its actions to ensure that it deals with information properly in the future.

An official ICO report stated: “In their response to us, the trust enclosed their protocols and procedures about dealing with unsolicited calls from third parties requesting information about a patient.

“They confirmed that all trust staff receive annual training in these procedures, but it was evident from their investigation that procedures had not been followed by the centre on this occasion.

“The trust confirmed that staff at the centre would be retrained in line with their procedures and that they had communicated their policies and procedures to the centre to reinforce how they deal with unsolicited third-party calls in the future.

“On the basis of all of the information provided, we have decided that it is unlikely that the trust has complied with the requirements of the Data Protection Act in this case.”

“This is because it appears that the trust did not take the appropriate security steps when dealing with the unsolicited call from the third-party asking for personal data.”

No further action will be taken in relation to the incident, which happened earlier this year.

A spokesman for City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust declined to comment.

Twitter: @SunderlandEcho