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Patient notes - second slip-up; PRIVATE: Details posted out.

Byline: By Alison Dayani

CONFIDENTIAL patient notes have been posted out to random strangers in a blunder by Birmingham mental health workers.

An inquiry is under way into how the error happened - disclosing private details including medical history, National Health Service numbers, dates of birth and other information that could lead to identity fraud.

Blunders have occurred twice in the past six months by Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust.

A patient, who wished to remain anonymous, said he was first sent another patient's records with his own a few months ago.

He notified the NHS trust but was stunned when the mistake happened again last month. He was sent details of a second patient's files and documents in with a general letter promoting the Trust's patient liaison group, PALS.

"This is the second time I have had private patient notes sent to me in the post," said the source.

"Each time I have informed the Trust, they have verified that they are both patients first and admitted a mistake has been made.

"They always say it is a one-off and to ignore it, but this is private, confidential information on people's lives that I have in my hands. How many other letters are being sent out to the wrong people like this?

"I could see what drugs they were on, which consultants they were seen by and where they live. Everything.

"People often want to be discreet about mental health problems too, which makes this all the worse."

Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust handles treatment and services for a population of 1.2million people.

Ros Alstead, director of nursing at Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust, said: "We take matters of patient confidentiality and data protection extremely seriously and the Trust has appropriate policies in place.

"We are aware of this complaint, which is being investigated."

Government organisations have been warned to tighten up security issues after various scandals involving confidential files.

Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell had to apologise after leaving confidential documents on a train.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Nov 21, 2008
Words:340
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