A patient support worker has been given £10,000 in compensation because a colleague looked at her private records ‘to check if she was really pregnant’.
Julia Walker told her co-workers she was pregnant with twins around September 16, 2019. On the same day Lauren Walker, who is not related to Julia, looked through the hospital’s database to find Julia’s information.
Lauren did not actually access any of Julia’s medical records, she only looked at Julia’s address page.
Lauren claims she was just looking for Julia’s address to send her congratulatory flowers but no flowers ever arrived at Julia’s home.
But Julia, a patient flow coordinator (PFC), believes Lauren was sceptical about her pregnancy and wanted to check she was telling the truth.
An employment tribunal, which concluded on July 22, found Lauren had ‘some motivation other than a desire to send flowers’.
Tribunal Judge Adele Marie Aspden also said the motivation, whatever it was, would not have affected her conclusion because accessing those private records amounted to ‘unfavourable treatment related to pregnancy’ anyway.
Julia found the whole thing ‘extremely upsetting’, Judge Aspden said.
She added: ‘Lauren and Julia had been friends but Julia believed that Lauren had reacted with scepticism when Julia told her she was pregnant.’
The tribunal found South Tees Hospital NHS Trust, which manages Julia’s place of work – the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire, guilty of discriminating against Julia.
Although no medical records were accessed, looking at Julia’s private information is a violation of data protection laws and in contravention of the Equality Act 2010.
Julia, who sadly lost her pregnancy, was paid £8,800 in compensation and £1,304.68 in interest – £10,104 in total.
But the Trust was cleared of several other allegations of discriminating against a pregnant person and other misbehaviours.
South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: ‘Although the tribunal found that no patient medical data was accessed in this case which occurred three years ago, the trust strengthened procedures at the time to help prevent similar circumstances occurring in the future.’
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