NHS outsourcing and the dangers of data breaches
nhs outsourcing

NHS outsourcing and the dangers of data breaches

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The NHS budget is a hotly-debated topic. Cuts, cuts and more cuts have led to some services being squeezed beyond measure, and the obvious truth is that cost-cutting can directly lead to increased chances of mistakes.

Last year, one huge case of cost-cutting seemingly led to a monumental data breach scenario and millions of pounds being paid to pick up the pieces. In 2017 it was revealed that more than 500,000 pieces of patient information in the five year period between 2011 and 2016 had been lost as a result of outsourcing. Such sensitive data being lost is a huge issue.

Reportedly, over 500,000 letters between General Practitioners and hospitals never made it to their intended recipients. The letters contained highly sensitive information like test results, diagnoses and treatment plans

The sensitive medical information lost could be vital to patients.

Misplaced or inaccurate information being passed along can hinder medical professionals doing their jobs in an efficient manner, and in more serious cases, such incidents can cause direct harm to a patient. On top of that, there is the fact that sensitive medical information can get lost because it ends up in the wrong hands…

According to reports, around 2,500 cases were identified as requiring further investigation due to the nature of the letter content. Diagnoses and treatment plans for patients with cancer or other critical conditions were understandably deemed to be at the highest risk.

How it happened

The private company NHS Shared Business Services (SBS) was apparently responsible for the delivering of NHS internal mail. Severe failings were identified on their part.

The result was a team of 50 administrators being brought together to sort out the mess SBS created. The British Medical Association slammed governmental cost-cuts to our health service as the reason for this colossal failure.

The NHS’s plan to use private companies to save money has massively backfired in this case as they faced additional costs to clean up mistakes. But the sad reality is that the option of private outsourcing is sometimes the only way forward because of the severity of the cuts the NHS is faced with.

Millions of pounds were paid to GPs to re-examine resurfaced medical documents. While GPs are being paid for this inconvenience, patients are expected to accept the undue delay and effect of the breach.

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