Ambulance service suffers serious data breach


Another ambulance service in England hit the headlines this week after it accidentally published the sensitive personal details of almost 3,000 staff members online.

The information, which included staff members’ age, marital status, sexuality and religion, was attached to a report published on the organisation’s website. Although immediate action was taken to remove the data, the Information Commissioner’s Office is currently investigating the circumstances of the breach.

This is a stark reminder of the importance of keeping information secure, and we all have a part to play.

It is important that all staff take information confidentiality seriously. As well as distress caused to the subjects of a data breach the consequences for the Trust could be significant. The Information Commissioner can impose financial penalties of up to £500,000 for serious losses. Many staff handle confidential and sensitive information every day. Patients trust us to keep their information secure, and under the Data Protection Act we have a legal duty to ensure that their information is protected.

Although we have procedures in place to safeguard information, we are reliant on each individual to follow best practice when handling confidential data in their day-to-day jobs. We have an information governance team that can provide guidance to staff, so if anyone has any concerns or would like some advice, please do get in touch.

There are also information governance pages on East24 (accessed via a Trust network only) and a downloadable information security leaflet for staff reference.

Remember, actual or suspected data losses should be reported to a manager immediately and logged on the DATIX system. There are specific incident codes in Datix which cover information losses: breach of confidentiality; loss of information (patient records); loss of information/data (all other records); and lost/misplaced laptops and memory sticks.

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