NHS worker fined after snooping in hospital’s records to find family

Eileen McMillan
Eileen McMillan
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AN NHS worker has been fined after accessing hospital records to find out her estranged daughter’s address.

Clerical officer Eileen McMillan was working at Portsmouth NHS Hospitals Trust when she looked up her daughter and grandson.

The 57-year-old was heavily criticised by a judge, who said her actions undermined the public’s confidence in health service workers.

Prosecutor Michael Standing told a court the daughter ‘did not want to have any contact from her mother or mother’s family’.

He said: ‘This was not a decision she had taken lightly.

‘It was her practise not to give out her home address apart from when absolutely necessary. In most occasions she did not give out a current home address, but rather a different address.

‘The only institutions to be provided with a current address were Queen Alexandra Hospital and also her son’s school. The school have said there has been no disclosure made of that address.

‘The daughter then received letters from Ms McMillan’s solicitors asking about child contact arrangements with the grandson.’

The court heard contact between McMillan, of Woolmer Street, Emsworth, and her grandson, who lives four miles away, had been stopped due to concerns being raised.

This involved ‘tragic family circumstances,’ Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court heard.

Mr Standing added: ‘The trust carried out an investigation into this matter. The defendant was dismissed for gross misconduct.

‘The daughter says it was not a light decision to withhold the address from family members and it’s caused significant anxiety.’

Trust bosses informed the Information Commissioner’s Office and McMillan, now a receptionist, was prosecuted.

Ordering McMillan to pay £1,350.75, district judge Anne Arnold said: ‘You held a position of trust in the health service and this was a gross breach of trust for which you were dismissed and it’s caused significant upset to the victim.’

The judge added: ‘This type of offence risks undermining public confidence in NHS employees, very many of whom are trusted in having access to personal and confidential details.’

Michael Cotter, for McMillan, said she lived a blameless life with no convictions.

‘She’s worked 18 years in the NHS without a blemish on her record,’ he said.

McMillan admitted knowingly or recklessly obtaining personal data without the consent of the data controller between February 4 and July 8, 2015.

A second charge of disclosing the data was dropped as, although McMillan’s solicitors wrote to the daughter, there was no proof this was after the data breach.

The judge fined her £650 with £635.75 costs and a £65 victim surcharge.