A former NHS administrator has been fined for unlawfully accessing patient records.

Sally Anne Day, of Abergavenny, Wales, appeared for sentencing at Newport Crown Court having pleaded guilty to two offences under section 55 of the Data Protection Act

Day repeatedly and unlawfully accessed the medical records of two patients between August 2015 and July 2016, causing them distress.

In that time she accessed the first patient’s confidential records 51 times, and the second patient’s records on a further eight occasions.

Day subsequently resigned from her job as an administrator for Powys Trust Health Board (PTHB) based at a GP surgery.

The case – which was brought by the Information Commissioner’s Office - was originally listed at Cwmbran Magistrates Court but was transferred to the crown court, due to the serious breach of trust involved and the number of times the data subjects’ confidential records were illegally accessed.

Day was fined £200 for each offence and was also ordered to pay £350 costs and a £40 victim surcharge.

ICO Enforcement Group Manager Michael Shaw said:

“Once again we see people getting into serious trouble by ignoring patient confidentiality and their data protection responsibilities.

“Those who work with sensitive personal information need to be aware that if they access that information without good reason, they could well find themselves in court and end up with a criminal conviction.”

Notes to Editors

  1. The Information Commissioner’s Office upholds information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.
  2. The ICO has specific responsibilities set out in the Data Protection Act 1998, the Freedom of Information Act 2000, Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.
  3. The ICO can take action to change the behaviour of organisations and individuals that collect, use and keep personal information. This includes criminal prosecution, non-criminal enforcement and audit. The ICO has the power to impose a monetary penalty on a data controller of up to £500,000.
  4. Anyone who processes personal information must comply with eight principles of the Data Protection Act, which make sure that personal information is:
    • fairly and lawfully processed;
    • processed for limited purposes;
    • adequate, relevant and not excessive;
    • accurate and up to date;
    • not kept for longer than is necessary;
    • processed in line with your rights;
    • secure; and
    • not transferred to other countries without adequate protection.
  5. The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) sit alongside the Data Protection Act. They give people specific privacy rights in relation to electronic communications. There are specific rules on:
    • marketing calls, emails, texts and faxes;
    • cookies (and similar technologies);
    • keeping communications services secure; and
    • customer privacy as regards traffic and location data, itemised billing, line identification, and directory listings.

      We aim to help organisations comply with PECR and promote good practice by offering advice and guidance. We will take enforcement action against organisations that persistently ignore their obligations.
  6. Civil Monetary Penalties (CMPs) are subject to a right of appeal to the (First-tier Tribunal) General Regulatory Chamber against the imposition of the monetary penalty and/or the amount of the penalty specified in the monetary penalty notice.
  7. Any monetary penalty is paid into the Treasury’s Consolidated Fund and is not kept by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
  8. To report a concern to the ICO telephone our helpline 0303 123 1113 or go to ico.org.uk/concerns.
  9. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new law that will replace the Data Protection Act 1998 and will apply in the UK from 25 May 2018. The government has confirmed that the UK’s decision to leave the EU will not affect the commencement of the GDPR.