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Fax blunder leads to £55,000 penalty for NHS trust

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has issued a monetary penalty of £55,000 to North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust. The penalty follows a serious breach of the Data Protection Act which resulted in sensitive medical details of three patients being sent to a member of the public. And how does this impact on mainstream employment? Here’s the answer: the ICO’s investigation found that while the Trust had published best practice guidance which required staff to ‘phone ahead’ to make sure faxes were being sent to the right address and had been successfully received, this guidance had not been communicated to the staff involved and they had received no specific training on the secure use of fax machines. Given the circumstances, the implications of a read-across to awareness of policies and procedures for the protection of employee data, are all too obvious.

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