Email addresses and names of 780 people, many of whom are currently living with HIV, have been disclosed by a London-based clinic in one of its recent newsletters. The 56 Dean Street clinic has apologized for the disaster; however, it doesn’t seem that this apology will bring an end to the story.
Jeremy Hunt, the current health secretary, has ordered an inquiry for finding out the procedure adopted by the NHS for handling confidential medical data. According to Hunt, the privacy breach faced by hundreds of HIV patients is completely unacceptable.
The newsletter that carried the details of 780 patients was originally meant for individuals using different sexual health services offered by the clinic including the ones intended for people with HIV. Such newsletters usually offer details of treatment and care to the patients.
Hunt informed that he has appointed the Care Quality Commission for conducting an independent and thorough review of the data security procedures currently in use at the NHS and then recommending changes based on the assessment. The commission will also check what the NHS can do for stopping its staff from revealing sensitive information inadvertently and improving its security against powerful cyber-attacks.
According to Hunt, this inquiry was badly needed for ensuring that patients can have complete faith on the health service regarding the secrecy and safety of their treatment and health records. In his speech at the annual conference of NHS England, he said that the organization will lose everything if it loses people’s trust in its ability of looking after their confidential data securely.
Hunt said that one should understand that for NHS patients nothing is more important than the faith they have in NHS that it will take care of all their confidential medical data using the security of highest standards. He added that the truth, however, is that the NHS has failed to win people’s trust in its ability of doing this due to the recent data breach by the Dean Street clinic.
The clinic behind the unacceptable breach is run by the Chelsea & Westminster NHS Trust. The faulty email newsletter was sent out by the clinic on Tuesday, and the apology came shortly after the incident, on Wednesday. The clinic has also pledged to investigate the breach and find the culprits.