Suffolk mother’s anger after NHS data shared against her wishes
- Credit: Gregg Brown
An Ipswich mother has expressed anger after she was caught up in a major NHS data breach.
Jessica Holt was one of 150,000 people whose confidential health records were potentially shared against their wishes.
This was down to a coding error in the SystmOne computer system run by TPP and used by some GPs.
The glitch meant requests from patients to not have their information used for any reason unrelated to their care were not sent to NHS Digital.
NHS Digital was therefore unable to honour objections lodged between April 2015 and April 2018 and may have shared those patient records for research and planning purposes.
Opt-out wishes are now being respected and organisations that received data have been asked to destroy it.
NHs Digital has written to all patients affected, including Mrs Holt and her 17-year-old daughter.
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Mrs Holt, who is a patient at Two Rivers Medical Centre in Ipswich, said: “I think I was initially concerned about what data may be shared and also I was angry because I opted for my data not to be shared.”
The 41-year-old said the incident had left her with a “sense of mistrust”.
“You rely upon your doctors’ surgery and the NHS to treat your information with respect,” she added.
She said she had gone down the official route to find out what data of hers was shared and was awaiting a response.
Nic Fox, director of primary and social care technology at NHS Digital, confirmed no patient’s personal care or treatment had been affected by the fault.
This error would not have been able to occur under new national opt-out rules recently introduced, Mr Fox assured.
Dr John Parry, clinical director at TPP, offered an “unreserved” apology.
Mark Cousins, business manager at Two Rivers, said Mrs Holt and her daughter were the only patients to have informed the practice they had been affected.
He added: “We recorded their data preferences correctly and the fact that their information has subsequently been shared, against their wishes, was completely out of our control.
“Mrs Holt has since written to us seeking assurance that her and her daughter’s data preferences have been accurately recorded by the surgery and we have confirmed that this is, and always has been, the case.”