Nosey ex-NHS staffer slapped with fine for illegally peeking at medical records

Don’t let personal curiosity get the better of you, ICO warns


A former midwifery assistant from Essex has been fined £1,715 for unlawfully accessing and sharing patients’ medical records.

Brioney Woolfe pleaded guilty to the offences, which took place between December 2014 and May 2016, at Colchester Magistrate’s Court.

The UK’s data protection watchdog, the Information Commissioner, has said that the former NHS worker had accessed the records of 29 people - including those of family members, colleagues and people she had no known connection with.

Some of this information was then shared with others, the ICO said, which is both a breach of patient confidentiality and the Data Protection Act.

Woolfe's actions came to light after a patient complained, and the former NHS worker was ordered to pay out £1,715.

This included £400 for obtaining personal data and £650 for disclosing that personal data. Woolfe was charged £600 towards prosecution costs and a £65 victim surcharge.

Head of enforcement at the ICO, Steve Eckersely, slammed the nosey nature of the offence - which is not the first time the ICO has had to take action against NHS staff taking a look at patients’ records.

“Once again we see an NHS employee getting themselves in serious trouble by letting their personal curiosity get the better of them,” Eckersley said.

“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.” ®

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