An NHS employee has been awarded a £10,000 pay out after a colleague accessed her confidential patient records when she announced her pregnancy.
The colleague claimed she did not look at the claimant’s medical information, but an employment tribunal still found this to be unfavourable treatment and discriminatory.
Mrs Walker, a patient flow coordinator at South Tees Hospital NHS Trust, found out she was pregnant with twins in 2019.
After announcing the news, she was later told that someone had accessed her information on the patient database the day she told her colleagues that she was expecting twins. Mrs Walker found this extremely upsetting.
It transpired that the colleague who accessed the database was a friend who had reacted with scepticism when she announced her pregnancy.
In a disciplinary process, the colleague – an employee called Ms Walker, who is of no relation to the claimant – said she had accessed her patient record as she wanted to find Mrs Walker’s address in order to send her flowers, but did not view her medical information.
Mrs Walker later had a miscarriage. She was off sick for a period and in January 2020 sent a fit note that said she may be fit to return to work with amended duties. She later returned to work following an occupational health assessment.
The tribunal said that every patient, including NHS employees, is entitled to expect that those with access to the patient database respect their confidentiality and will not access data unless necessary.
Employment judge Adele Aspden said that Ms Walker accessed the database improperly even though she had not looked at medical information, adding that it “makes no difference” if she had intended to “do something nice” for the claimant.
The judge said this amounted to unfavourable treatment and found the claimant had been discriminated against.
Mrs Walker was awarded £10,100 in compensation, comprising an £8,800 award for injury to feelings and interest.