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Highland man victim of two NHS Highland data breaches in past 18 months

NHS Highland
NHS Highland

A Highland man has spoken of his devastation after his personal information was revealed for a second time in 18 months following the latest NHS Highland data breach.

The man, who does not wish to be identified, has said he feels the health board has not learnt its lessons and is calling for an investigation from Health Secretary Jeane Freeman.

The victim first had their information breached in when the names and email addresses of nearly 40 patients living with HIV was revealed by the health board to other patients.

A second incident last week led to the patient’s information being included alongside 283 others as 31 people were sent a spreadsheet in an email with the personal information.

Concern as personal data of 284 diabetic patients breached at NHS Highland

The information included the names, dates of births and contact information of patients, however, NHS Highland has said no medical information was shared.

As a result of the latest data breach, the health board has referred itself to the Information Commissioners Office (ICO).

NHS Highland has requested those who were sent the spreadsheet delete the information and inform them that the process has been undertaken.

The patient said: “This has demonstrated moral bankruptcy in this agency as they clearly did not learn the lessons of last time.

“Once is an accident; twice is not.

“I am personally devastated that I am having to go through this again.

“We cannot go through this twice and not have an inquiry from the health secretary.

“The lack of patient support to me suggests they have lost sight of how to support those affected.

“I had an incredibly low time when my information was breached the first time.

“What I feel has been lacking in both situations is there is no genuine empathy or understanding for the patient.

“I feel belittled by NHS Highland. After a year-and-a-half, they have belittled me as a patient and do not respect me.

“I just don’t feel NHS Highland understand the concept of respecting their patients. I feel belittled and in their eyes worthless and that is not what the NHS is there for; the NHS is there to support you.

“This latest data breach has raised questions over my long term trust in this important service.”

Pam Dudek, NHS Highland’s chief executive, said: “NHS Highland cannot comment on individual cases. We have contacted all patients affected by this data breach to apologise unreservedly and to offer them support.

“We deeply regret that this incident occurred.

“We are currently reviewing our internal controls to reduce the risk of this happening in the future.”

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “This data breach will be fully investigated to understand any failings and what lessons can be learned.

“I completely understand the concern of the patients affected and I assure them that this incident will be taken through the appropriate process to ensure improvements are identified and actions are swiftly taken.

“I expect the board to keep the public and local parliamentarians fully updated on progress.”

Regional MSP David Stewart has been contacted by the patient and has written to the health secretary calling for her to ensure proper protection, staff training and systems are in place to prevent such incidents happening again.

“Quite honestly I could not believe it when the constituent contacted me to tell me he had his information shared again,” said Mr Stewart.

“He is absolutely devastated by the second breach as it shows lessons have not been learnt from last year and I can clearly understand why he feels so let down.”

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