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A ‘nosy’ midwife has been sacked by the University Hospitals of Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust after she was discovered to have viewed confidential medical records belonging to friends, colleagues and other acquaintances.
Thirty-eight-year-old Vicky Anne Bloxham lost her job as a midwife for the illegal snooping carried out between 2002 and 2016.
In 2016 alone, Bloxham reportedly reviewed the medical records of some 45 friends and acquaintances without authorisation, with one person’s records accessed 13 times in a four-month period.
An investigation was launched by the Nursing and Midwifery Council when a patient complained about Bloxham sharing their sensitive medical information with someone else. When confronted about the data breach, she denied using the computer system to look at medical records. however, she was caught out when she was told there was a digital trail showing what records she’d accessed and when.
The panel who made the decision to dismiss Bloxham heard that the former NHS worker also looked through medical records belonging to her ex-boyfriend, her own records and a former neighbour. She claimed she only viewed them because of her “fear about health, illness and death.” Whether or not her intentions were motivated by such concerns, Bloxham did not have authorisation to view these records, and her actions were entirely inappropriate.
She admitted to the panel that she was “very ashamed and embarrassed” of her “completely inquisitive” actions.
After admitting her wrongdoing, Bloxham stated she’d “learnt a lesson” from the “unchangeable events”, and said: “I hope to be able to move forward and put this harrowing time behind me.” However, the data subjects who entrusted the hospital and its staff with their sensitive medical records may be less than sympathetic to Bloxham’s apologies.
Panel chair Yvonne Brown said the panel were “satisfied that Mrs Bloxham’s misconduct will have brought the reputation of the profession into disrepute” given that she had “abused her position of trust” over the 12-year period.
For her actions, Bloxham lost her job and her reputation.
The Information Commissioner’s Office may also open their own probe into the misconduct, and Bloxham could potentially be fined hundreds or even thousands of pounds. The ICO has seen many of these cases where NHS workers are abusing their powers; it’s turning into a regular occurrence. It seems like each time the U.K. data protection watchdog warns against violating protocol and giving into curiosity to snoop on records, we hear yet another story of it happening.
Bloxham’s punishment won’t undo the damage done by betraying the data subjects’ trust and confidence in the hospital. With the nature of the data breaches, Bloxham’s friends, ex-boyfriend, colleagues and even her former neighbours may be left worrying about who knows about their medical information, and how much.
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