UK: Patient phone tapes taken home by staff

Caroline Innes of the Liverpool Echo writes:

Tape recordings of patient phone calls were taken home by out-of-hours GP service staff.

Data protection experts said today they feared patient confidentiality was being compromised by the actions of Urgent Care 24 (UC24) workers.

Today the organisation said the practice of taking tapes home to do audit checks at home had stopped.

However information is still taken off-site – in password protected laptops or password protected data sticks – although UC24 insists this is not a breach of confidentiality.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said it will be asking UC24 about its compliance with the Data Protection Act.

ICO said information must remain on site to protect the confidentiality of the million patients who use UC24 and also to prevent identity theft.

An ICO spokesperson said: “Personal information must always be held securely and clearly taking sensitive material home raises privacy concerns.

“Under the Data Protection Act organisations are themselves responsible for processing personal information in line with the eight principles of the Act.

“We will be contacting UC24 about this to seek further information on how the organisation is complying with the Data Protection Act.”

Last April UC24 chiefs revealed that, following an electronic sweep of their Wavertree offices by a specialist surveillance company, an electronic listening device was recovered from the back of one of their computer screens.

At the time Dr Simon Abrams, medical director of UC24, said he was shocked and highly concerned that the bug – which was active and transmitting when it was found – had breached patient confidentiality by recording doctors as they offered telephone consultations.

Source – Liverpool Echo

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