Torbay Care Trust fined for staff data website breach

A Devon care trust has been fined £175,000 after sensitive details of more than 1,300 staff were published on its website.

Names, dates of birth and National Insurance numbers were published by Torbay Care Trust in April 2011.

A member of the public reported it 19 weeks later, said the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).

The trust has apologised to staff and said it has new policies in place to prevent a future breach.

The data, which was published in a spreadsheet, covered the equality and diversity responses of 1,373 staff and also included information about the person's religion and sexuality.

'Entirely avoidable'

The ICO's investigation found that the trust had no guidance for staff on what information should not be published online and had "inadequate checks in place to identify potential problems".

Stephen Eckersley, head of enforcement, said: "The fact that this breach was caused by Torbay Care Trust publishing sensitive information about their staff is extremely troubling and was entirely avoidable.

"Not only were they giving sensitive information out about their employees but they were also leaving them exposed to the threat of identity fraud," he said.

Anthony Farnsworth, who was chief executive of the care trust at the time of the breach, said: "This was an organisational issue in which the absence of sufficient checks within our processes made an error possible, and we have treated this with the utmost seriousness.

"We have no evidence that the information was accessed by anyone other than the individual who reported it, and it was removed as soon as it was brought to our attention.

"We have since implemented far more robust procedures for managing staff information."

He added that "the information did not contain any clinical or patient data".

On 1 April 2012, Torbay Care Trust separated to form two new organisations: NHS Torbay and Torbay and Southern Devon Health and Care NHS Trust.

Mr Farnsworth is now chief executive of Torbay and Southern Devon Health and Care NHS Trust.

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