Private-sectior firm under investigation after staff let slip private details of NHS workers in data blunder

First published in News

A FIRM is being investigated after a talk to local health representatives disclosed private staff data.

Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust bosses had been looking to lay off payroll, pension and HR workers and outsource their work to a private firm.

The preferred bidder was Capsticks, whose staff gave a presentation at the trust on April 4.

But the audience was given personal details of staff from hospitals elsewhere in the country, in direct breach of data protection rules.

Capsticks bosses have expressed regret over the incident, which the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is probing.

A spokesman for Unison, which represents many trust workers based at Fairfield, North Manchester and Royal Oldham hospitals and Rochdale Infirmary, said: “We are extremely concerned by this serious breach of the Data Protection Act, which we have referred to the ICO.

“Capsticks chose to publicise and distribute extremely sensitive and personal data about NHS employees without their knowledge or consent.”

A spokesman for Capsticks, which also referred the matter to the ICO, said it was “human error”.

He said: “An employee failed to ensure material used in the presentation ‘dummy’ rather than ‘live’ data.

“We have notified the trust and the individuals involved and have apologised.

“The materials involved in the presentation have been destroyed.

“The employee involved will be subject to internal procedures.”

The Pennine trust’s deputy HR director Nick Hayes insisted none of the data related to Pennine staff or patients.

It has since been revealed the sensitive data related to staff working for East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, whose spokesman said: “We were very concerned that personal data about some staff was shared accidently by Capsticks when discussing their service with the Pennine Acute.

“We are reassured, however, by how seriously Capsticks have responded.

They have apologised to all concerned and acted swiftly to rectify the situation, especially in making sure that such an event can never happen again.”

Pennine Trust bosses last week revealed it had chosen to accept an in-house plan to keep around 20 payroll and pension jobs, whilst saving double the amount of money.

However, no decison has yet been made on contracting out 25 human resources jobs.

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