News

HCA fined for accessing medical records on family and colleagues

NHS staff are being reminded about the potentially serious consequences of prying into patients’ records after a healthcare assistant (HCA) accessed medical information on 29 people.
record

NHS staff are being reminded of the potentially serious consequences of prying into patients’ records without a valid reason after a healthcare assistant (HCA) secretly accessed medical information on 29 people.

Brioney Woolfe improperly viewed the medical records of family members, colleagues and others – and shared some of the confidential details.

Ms Woolfe, of Dovercourt, Essex, was ordered to pay £1,715 in fines and costs by Colchester Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty to offences of unlawfully obtaining and disclosing personal data.

Complaint

The former HCA was employed by Colchester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust at the time of the offences, which took place between December 2014 and May 2016.

Her actions were uncovered after the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) launched an investigation following a complaint by a patient.

NHS staff are being reminded of the potentially serious consequences of prying into patients’ records without a valid reason after a healthcare assistant (HCA) secretly accessed medical information on 29 people.

records
The Information Commissioner’s Office investigated
after a complaint by a patient. Picture: iStock

Brioney Woolfe improperly viewed the medical records of family members, colleagues and others – and shared some of the confidential details.

Ms Woolfe, of Dovercourt, Essex, was ordered to pay £1,715 in fines and costs by Colchester Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty to offences of unlawfully obtaining and disclosing personal data.

Complaint

The former HCA was employed by Colchester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust at the time of the offences, which took place between December 2014 and May 2016.

Her actions were uncovered after the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) launched an investigation following a complaint by a patient.

Ms Woolfe is one of four healthcare employees to be prosecuted this year for offences relating to accessing medical records without a work-related purpose. The five cases include a nurse in Wales who accessed the medical records of 3,000 people including hospital staff.

Curiosity

Commenting on the latest case, ICO head of enforcement Steve Eckersley said: ‘Once again we see an NHS employee getting themselves in serious trouble by letting their personal curiosity get the better of them.

‘Patients are entitled to have their privacy protected, and those who work with sensitive personal data need to know that they can’t just access it or share it with others when they feel like it. The law is clear and the consequences of breaking it can be severe.’

Woolfe was fined £400 for obtaining personal data and £650 for disclosing it. She was also ordered to pay a contribution of £600 towards prosecution costs and a victim surcharge of £65.


In other news

Sign up to continue reading for FREE

OR

Unlock full access to RCNi Plus today

Save over 50% on your first three months:

  • Customisable clinical dashboard featuring 200+ topics
  • Unlimited online access to all 10 RCNi Journals including Primary Health Care
  • RCNi Learning featuring 180+ RCN accredited learning modules
  • NMC-compliant RCNi Portfolio to build evidence for revalidation
  • Personalised newsletters tailored to your interests

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?

Jobs