When news happens, text SDE and your photos or videos to 80360. Or contact us by email and phone.
Medical receptionist spied on records of ex-husband's new wife
SHE repeatedly accessed sensitive medical information about her ex-husband’s new wife.
Now receptionist Marcia Phillips, 47, must pay a hefty fine after she was prosecuted under the Data Protection Act for unlawfully obtaining Kelly Phillips’ personal data.
West Hampshire Magistrates’ Court heard how the divorcee, of Hinton Crescent, Southampton, delved into the data on 15 separate occasions over a 16-month period.
The breaches came to light after Kelly Phillips received a text message from Marcia Phillips referring to sensitive medical information.
The court heard how the victim felt “sick and shocked” when she read the message, which was sent after Marcia Phillips left her job at the practice in August 2010.
A complaint was made to the surgery on January 11 last year that Marcia Phillips had unlawfully accessed the information, the court heard.
Magistrates were told the information was accessed by the defendant on numerous occasions on 15 separate dates between January 30, 2009, and May 17, 2010. Marcia Phillips was fined £750 at West Hampshire Magistrates’ Court and ordered to pay costs totalling £415 after pleading guilty to unlawfully obtaining or accessing personal data under Section 55 of the Data Protection Act.
The case was brought forward by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
Dr Christopher Budge, information governance lead and executive partner at the Bath Lodge Practice, said a “thorough” internal investigation was carried out as soon as the complaint was made, and the ICO was contacted.
He said: “As with all NHS organisations, patient confidentiality is of the utmost importance at Bath Lodge Practice.
“The practice has fully cooperated with the ICO’s investigation at every stage.
“We would like to reassure our patients that maintaining strict patient confidentiality remains a priority. The circumstances in this case were particular to the former member of staff and this particular patient.
“While that in no way excuses this breach, we are confident it will not be repeated.”
David Smith, deputy commissioner and director of Data Protection, said the case showed the “distress” that can be caused when people illegally access sensitive personal information.
He said: “Ms Phillips knew she was breaking the law, but continued to do so in order to cause harm to her ex-husband’s new wife.
“The nature of her job meant that she will have been in no doubt as to the importance of patient confidentiality.
“Despite this she repeatedly accessed the victim’s file without a valid reason.”
The Daily Echo tried to contact Marcia Phillips but she did not answer our attempts.
But in statement given to police when interviewed under caution, she said accesses to the complainant’s records were lawful, claiming she had a “business purpose” for doing so.