Doctors harassed over Facebook, patient records lost by the NHS and Ed Milliband’s mental health agenda
A round-up of the health news headlines on Monday 29 October
Doctors are being ‘bombarded’ with Facebook messages from infatuated patients, said The Telegraph this morning.
The Medical Defence Union said the number of doctors seeking help to deal with unwanted advances has risen by a third as the rise of email, texting and social networking sites has made it easier for patients to get in contact.
In some of the worst cases doctors were forced to call the police and take out injunctions against patients making unwanted contact.
Some doctors were falsely accused of having a relationship with patients, and faced a GMC investigation.
Dr Claire Macaulay of the MDU said: ‘Our members report that being bombarded with messages to their mobiles or email, Twitter or Facebook accounts can, in some ways, be even more intrusive than receiving a stream of written letters.’
The NHS lost track of 1.8 million confidential patient records in a year, according to a Daily Mail investigation.
Worst cases included sensitive information about terminally ill patients being faxed to the wrong number, patient records posted on the internet or dumped in public bins.
The Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, has levied fines totalling nearly £1 million on NHS bodies in the last six months. He is currently seeking new powers to conduct compulsory audits on NHS trusts and hospitals, after an increasing number of lapses in data security.
Nick Pickles, director of privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: ‘These figures may be shocking, but they will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the NHS’s track record for dealing with patient data.
‘Across the NHS there are some excellent organisations who are addressing this problem well but some of the poor performers are terrifying.
‘There is a real risk that if the NHS doesn’t sort out how it looks after patients’ details people will stop sharing information with their doctor and that could be extremely dangerous for care.’
The Guardian reported on Ed Milliband’s call to for increased tolerance and support for those with mental health problems. In his first address since the Labour party conference, he likened attacks on sufferers of mental health problems to the fight against racism, sexism and homophobia.
He promised to re-write the NHS constitution to ensure that mentally ill people have access to treatments in the same way as the physically ill and went on to criticise Jeremy Clarkson and Janet Street Porter for belittling those who suffer from mental illness, saying that attitudes towards mental illness needed to change.