A former NHS employee has been found guilty and fined for illegally accessing the medical records of over 150 people.
Loretta Alborghetti, from Redditch, worked as a medical secretary within the Ophthalmology department at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust when she illegally accessed the records.
In June 2019, a complaint was raised by a patient who was concerned that their medical records had been accessed by an employee.
An investigation revealed that Ms Alborghetti had accessed this individual’s records 33 times between March 2019 and June 2019, without consent or a business need to do so.
It further discovered that she had accessed a total of 156 patient records without consent or a business need, viewing them over 1800 times within the three-month period. This included the records of family members and individuals with postcodes local to where she lived at the time.
As part of her role as a medical secretary, Ms Alborghetti was required to access clinical and personal information of patients within the ophthalmology department. However, the individuals whose records were accessed had no medical conditions relating to ophthalmology.
Ms Alborghetti appeared before Worcester Magistrates’ Court on 15 November 2023. Following the investigation from the Information Commissioner’s Office, she pleaded guilty to unlawfully obtaining personal data in breach of Section 170 of the Data Protection Act 2018 and was ordered to pay a total of £648.
“People should never have to think twice about whether their sensitive data, such as their medical records, is secure and in safe hands.
“We want to remind those in positions of trust that just because your job may grant you access to other people’s personal information, that doesn’t mean you have the legal right to look at it for your own purposes.
“This case shows that the ICO will take action when confidential personal records are accessed unlawfully. Curiosity is no excuse for breaching data protection laws.”
- Andy Curry, ICO Head of Investigations
Notes to editors
- The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is the UK’s independent regulator for data protection and information rights law, upholding information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.
- The ICO has specific responsibilities set out in the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA2018), the United Kingdom General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR), the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR), Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 (PECR) and a further five acts and regulations.
- The ICO can take action to address and change the behaviour of organisations and individuals that collect, use, and keep personal information. This includes criminal prosecution, non-criminal enforcement and audit.
- To report a concern to the ICO telephone call our helpline on 0303 123 1113, or go to ico.org.uk/concerns.