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Blunders : “Contact details for a domestic violence victim mistakenly given to her violent ex-partner by a social worker”

A shocking catalogue of blunders by Northern Ireland’s health trusts, which exposed the private details of hundreds of vulnerable patients, can be revealed by the Belfast Telegraph.

Serious lapses in data protection and confidentiality procedures saw highly sensitive information lost, disclosed to the wrong people and even published on the internet.

In one alarming case a client’s referral details were revealed on Facebook after a staff member dialled the wrong number and left a message on an answering machine.

It was among almost 100 serious data breaches reported by the region’s five health trusts in recent years. Details of the incidents were obtained after an investigation by this newspaper.

The most shocking cases include:

  • Contact details for a domestic violence victim mistakenly given to her violent ex-partner by a social worker;
  • A doctor who moved house, leaving behind his patient records;
  • Files meant for a health board which were accidentally emailed to an education board;
  • A rucksack containing radiology results which was discarded in a shop;
  • And a client who was contacted by a member of the public after a social worker’s notebook was left in their home.

The findings have led to calls for an urgent review of how patient data is handled.

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