Fine over Staffordshire health trust fax errors

A health trust has been fined £55,000 after sensitive medical details of three patients were faxed to a member of the public by mistake.

The faxes were intended for the North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust's Wellbeing Centre.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) issued the fine for "a serious breach of the Data Protection Act".

The trust said "human error" meant a wrong number was dialled but it had taken steps to stop it happening again.

The information disclosed included the patients' names, addresses, medical histories and details of their physical and mental health.

Breach 'avoidable'

The trust was eventually alerted to the problem after receiving a letter from the recipient.

The three faxes were sent to the same member of the public between August and September 2011.

ICO enforcement group manager Sally Anne Poole said: "Let's make no mistake, this breach was entirely avoidable.

"One phone call ahead to the trust's Wellbeing Centre would have alerted its staff to the fact that the number they were entering was incorrect."

Trish Donovan from the Trust said: "We've made considerable changes since this happened in 2011.

"We've reviewed our policies and systems of how we handle patient information and believe we've made all the appropriate actions to avoid this happening again."

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