A former employee of a Milton Keynes hospital trust has been prosecuted for accessing patient records without authorisation.

Michelle Harrison, of Milton Keynes, inappropriately accessed the records of 12 patients outside of her role as receptionist/general assistant in the Orthotics Department at Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust between March 2016 and January 2017. 

These included the patient records of her ex-partner and a woman who claimed that Ms Harrison had used the information to harass her and had complained to the Trust.

The Trust contacted the Information Commissioner’s Office in March 2017 after they had received the complaint.

Harrison pleaded guilty to unlawfully accessing personal data and unlawfully disclosing personal data in breach of s55 of the Data Protection Act 1998 at Milton Keynes Magistrates' Court on Friday 20 April.  She was sentenced to offence 1 - £134, offence 2 - £166 and victim surcharge of £30.

Mike Shaw, Head of Criminal Investigations at the ICO, said:

”This abuse of a position of trust has caused significant distress to a number of people. The laws on data protection are there for a reason and people have the right to know their highly sensitive personal information will be treated with appropriate privacy and respect. The ICO will continue to take action against those who abuse their position and potentially jeopardise the important relationship of trust between patients and the NHS.”

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. The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new law which will apply in the UK from 25 May 2018. The Government has confirmed the UK’s decision to leave the EU will not affect the commencement of the GDPR. The Government is introducing measures related to this and wider data protection reforms in a Data Protection Bill.
  5. 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.
  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/