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PCT leaks confidential data of 1,800 staff

By Steve Nowottny

A Primary Care Trust has apologised after accidentally leaking the confidential details of hundreds of staff.

Sefton PCT admitted the names, dates of birth, salary details and National Insurance and pension numbers of 1,800 staff members were mistakenly released last month, after they were sent to three NHS providers and a not-for-profit organisation as part of the tendering process for sexual health services.

But the trust refused to name the organisations involved – citing commercially confidentiality.

In a letter to staff explaining the incident, seen by Pulse, the trust said a spreadsheet containing the personal details of staff was ‘accidentally attached to information on our service requirement' and sent to the four organisations, two of whom opened it.

The trust blamed the mistake on ‘human error made by a valued member of our staff.' But a spokeswoman for Sefton PCT refused to specify what disciplinary action if any would be taken.

Asked if the staff member would be suspended, she said only: 'We take this matter very seriously and we are dealing with it as an internal issue to ensure it does not happen again.'

Sefton PCT chief executive Dr Leigh Griffin told staff: ‘All the organisations have now formally confirmed they have destroyed this personal data. I have also received full assurances that prior to its destruction the data was only handled by competent and reliable NHS staff in the two organisations who opened the data.'

Dr Andrew Mimnagh, chair of Sefton LMC, said he would be meeting with Dr Griffin tomorrow afternoon to discuss the release.

‘This is an issue we treat with the highest level of concern, as it may have general ramifications for data transfer across the whole NHS apparatus, as well as possible sanction under the Data Protection Act for our local trust,' he said.

‘This saddens the LMC greatly, as the trust has been working to improve its performance, trust and relations with its staff and contractors. It must now work even harder in these regards to recover from such errors.'

Dr Andrew Mimnagh, chair of Sefton LMC Dr Andrew Mimnagh, chair of Sefton LMC

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