Express & Star

Walsall health trust patients' letters blunder

Private details of 30 people – including diagnosis results – were wrongly sent to a single person by the NHS trust which runs Walsall Manor Hospital.


A patient registered with the hospital received an envelope addressed to her containing her own test results in May – but loose inside the envelope were another 30 patient letters.

The letters were intended for a GP practice and contained confidential personal information, names, addresses and diagnosis results.

A second similar incident occurred around the same date, whereby a patient received another batch of correspondence intended for another GP practice.

The data breach was discussed at a recent Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust board meeting, where it was brought up as part of a serious incident report summary.

A statement in the report discussed reads: "The patient contacted the GP surgery to advise of this error and made arrangements to personally hand deliver the envelope containing all the correspondence the same evening to the GP surgery.

"A documented process will be created and approved to support staff in daily tasks."

The trust say they have introduced a 'documented procedure for distribution of clinical correspondence to GP's' since the incident to avoid it happening again.

Walsall North MP David Winnick called the error 'horrible and inexcusable'.

He said: "I have expressed my concerns about the Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust and Manor Hospital numerous times in the past and their need to get out of special measures.

"I have been hopeful that they could shake themselves up but incidents like these naturally make me pessimistic.

"The local community will once again be most disappointed.

"This is a horrible and inexcusable breach of information."

The trust was placed in special measures by the CQC back in January, with inspectors declaring that 'significant improvement' was immediately needed in a number of areas, including maternity services and emergency care.

Bosses at the hospital claim that work is already under way to improve the situation through extra staff and investment, while targeting an escape from special measures by next year.

Rachel Overfield, director of nursing at Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust said: "Firstly, we would like to take this opportunity to apologise once again to those patients whose details were mistakenly shared in this way.

"We have written to the small number of patients whose clinical details were revealed to reassure them that the trust takes this very seriously and has since taken action to avoid a similar incident.

"We reported this breach to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), conducted our own internal investigation and worked with the ICO on its investigation in order to learn lessons and help us continuously improve patient care."

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