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ICO successfully prosecutes pharmacist who unlawfully spied on family and colleagues’ medical records

Harkanwarjit Dhanju, a pharmacist who worked for a Primary Care Trust has been prosecuted by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) under S.55 of the Data Protection Act, after unlawfully accessing the medical records of family members, work colleagues and local health professionals.

Dhanju was fined £1000, ordered to pay a £100 victim surcharge and £608.30 prosecution costs. Dhanju did have responsibility for handling medication reviews for patients in local residential care homes with dementia and other mental health issues, but a manager uncovered that Dhanju was using his security pass to access unrelated medical records and the matter was reported to the ICO.

The case serves as a reminder that within an organisation’s data protection policy it should be clearly set out that unlawfully obtaining or accessing personal data is a criminal offence under S.55 of the Data Protection Act 1998 and this needs to be reinforced in staff handbooks and training.


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