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NHS worker illegally accessed neighbour's records

By Jamie Brassington | Dudley | News | Published:

A hospital worker has admitted disclosing private details of patients’ medical records.

Wolverhampton Magistrates Court

Clair Francis, who worked as a coding officer at Dudley Group NHS Trust, accessed her friend’s medical records dozens of times and also disclosed information about a baby.

Ms Francis, aged 38 of Slater Close in Cradley Heath, was fined £780 at Wolverhampton Magistrates’ Court.

District Judge David Webster said: “They are despicable offences which were a breach of trust. I hope you are ashamed of yourself.”

Ms Francis, a mother-of-two, pleaded guilty to two offences of knowingly or recklessly obtaining personal data between July, 11 2005 and November 24, 2014.

Prosecuting Miss Pennington, said Ms Francis accessed the data of her friend, Trisha Ghaley-Rose, around 56 times.

Ms Ghaley-Rose was her neighbour and friend but the court heard their relationship has since broken down.

She complained to the trust that she believed her records had been accessed and an investigation began. Ms Francis also disclosed information about an unknown baby, the court heard.

Miss Pennington said: “Trisha was her neighbour and friend but their relationship has since broken down.”

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Ms Francis left the trust in 2015 after working their for 13 years. Since then she gained new employment but was made redundant and is applying for Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Mr Webster said: “The offences to which you plead guilty to are offences which can only be punished by a fine.

“If more serious powers were available to the court I would be considering these. Often patients have to give doctors embarrassing personal information. They do so for the knowledge all is strictly confidential. When this is breached it strikes at the heart of patient and doctor confidentiality.”

Defending Mr Gerry Dahey said: “She pleaded guilty ahead of trial. There wasn’t any financial motive.

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“Ms Francis was just concerned about people who at the time she was friends with. She worked for the NHS for 13 years. She finished two years ago. She did have employment but was made redundant two months ago.”

Mike Shaw, group manager at Information Commissioner’s Office Enforcement Group, said: “NHS workers who have access to personal information will in the vast majority of cases have received data protection training, yet we still see people ignoring that training and breaking the law. Breaking privacy laws is a serious matter – it can be distressing for the victim, damaging for the reputation of the health service and can also be personally disastrous for the individual.”

Ms Ghaley-Rose said: “Your medical record is the most sensitive data that can be held about you. Knowing this information has been inappropriately accessed on more than 50 occasions makes me feel immensely violated and vulnerable.

"I can honestly say the past two years have been the most traumatic of my life."

Jamie Brassington

By Jamie Brassington
Trainee Multi-Media Journalist - @JamieB_Star

Reporter covering Dudley, Sandwell and Wyre Forest. Also dabble in sport. Call me on 01384353205 or email jamie.brassington@expressandstar.co.uk.

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