By Maximilian Clarke

NHS staff are using Facebook to openly discuss patients resulting in confidential information being shared, and even lost, a report finds.

Published by privacy campaigners, Big Brother Watch, the report NHS Breaches of Data Protection Law: How patient confidentiality was compromised five times every week

“This research highlights how the NHS is simply not doing enough to ensure confidential patient information is protected,” said Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch.

“The information held in medical records is of huge personal significance and for details to be disclosed, maliciously accessed or lost and these cases represents serious infringements on patient privacy.

“As the summary care record scheme is rolled out and an increasing number of people have access to private patient information, urgent action is needed to ensure that we can be sure our medical records are safe.

“It is essential the NHS is transparent about these incidents and failing or refusing to disclose that a data breach has taken place is unacceptable.”

The research follows on from an earlier Big Brother Watch report ‘Broken Records’, which highlighted how more than 100,000 non-medical personnel working in NHS acute trusts in Britain have access to confidential medical records and comes days after the Commons Justice Select Committee argued courts should have the power to punish people breaching the Data Protection Act with prison sentences, saying fines are an “inadequate” deterrent.

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