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Lib Dem calls for Scotland wide audit of patient records gains public support

August 1, 2012 3:33 PM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

The Scottish Liberal Democrats have today repeated their calls for a Scottish-wide investigation into NHS management of patient records after an Ayrshire woman's complaints about the handling of her records have been upheld by the Information Commissioner.

Mary Corbey's records were mistakenly sent to a Doctor's practise in Manchester in 2008, resulting in her being removed as a patient at her own surgery. The error took place after her records were incorrectly matched with those of a woman with the same first name whose date of birth had been incorrectly entered. The information commissioner expressed concern that NHS Ayrshire and Arran failed to take ownership of the issues in her particular case.

Today, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie MSP has argued that Ms Corbey's case reiterates the urgent need for the Health Secretary to commission a Scotland-wide investigation into NHS management of patient records.

Commenting, Mr Rennie said:

"Ms Corbey's case highlights the human stress caused by NHS mismanagement of patient records. Liberal Democrats have consistently called for the Scottish Government to hold a Scotland-wide investigation into NHS management of patient records, but the Scottish Government has failed to acknowledge the severity of this problem.

"In the last year we have seen significant failures in information management at Ayrshire and Arran NHS and learnt that over 100 patient records were identified as missing or lost across Scotland in 2011. Far from being satisfied that the NHS has a clear policy which protects patient information, alarm bells are ringing.

"This has been allowed to continue on the SNP's watch for too long. The Health Secretary must get a grip of NHS management of patient records and commission an investigation without delay or hindrance."

"This is not simply a call to improve bureaucracy in the NHS as mishandling information and patient records can cost lives. It can be a matter of life and death. On this occasion Ms Corbey missed cancer screening, on other occasions the NHS has not learned the lessons from patient deaths."

Joining the Liberal Democrats in their calls for a Scottish-wide investigation into NHS management of patient records, Ms Corbey said:

"If there was an Olympic prize for avoidance, evasion, denial and incompetence, NHS information management procedure and policy would win it hands down. I was told the misplacement of my records wasn't a breach of my data, that because it was lost within the NHS it wasn't as much of an issue; frankly that is the stuff of nonsense.

"There was a universal failure to identify my issue as being about confidentiality and data security.

"Ms Sturgeon has to sort this out. This has gone on for four years now, and year after year I see further proof that patient data isn't being adequately protected by the NHS.

"You've just got to ask, how many more people are there out there like me who've been bounced around the system in search of an answer? The public are being misled as to the confidentiality standards applied to record transfers. They should be told if their records are going to be moved about, and that isn't happening.

"It couldn't be clearer that the Scottish government needs to take responsibility for this.

"That is why I'm supporting the Liberal Democrats in their calls for a Scottish-wide investigation into NHS management of patient records."