Mayo Fianna Fáil TD Dara Calleary has said he is horrified at revelations that the medical records of a number of patients of St. Joseph’s District Hospital in Ballina, Co Mayo were found dumped in a litter bin in a local housing estate.
The Ballina-based Deputy has called on the HSE West to speed up their response to the revelations. The HSE have contacted families in the past few days but have told them they will have to wait three weeks for a full response.
Deputy Calleary said: “A three week delay in responding to the affected families is completely unacceptable. This has caused significant distress to these people and the HSE should get answers as soon as possible to alleviate that distress.
“It is deeply concerning that in the space of just a week, two sets of patient records have been found dumped in litter bins in the Western region. Just last week, we had the revelation that the records of patients who were treated at the Midland Regional Hospital in Mullingar were discarded and subsequently found in a bin outside Roscommon Hospital. We now have a similar disturbing situation in Ballina, Co Mayo.
“This requires urgent action. I am calling on the HSE West to make public their procedures to ensure that such a worrying breach of patient confidentiality never occurs again. I have complete faith in the staff of the Ballina District Hospital, who are wonderful and dedicated professionals. The HSE also owes it to them to deal with this issue as a matter of urgency.
“Fianna Fáil has called on the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) to speed up the introduction of National Standards for Health Information Governance in order to protect patient records. HIQA is currently preparing standards that will cover privacy and confidentiality; information governance management; data quality; secondary use assurance; and security. Given the number of breaches that have occurred around the country in recent weeks, it is time for HIQA and indeed the Minister for Health to make this a priority.
“A person’s private medical records must remain private and patients must have confidence in how their information is handled by the health authorities. There can be no justification for such sensitive material being mishandled in any way that results in breaches of confidentiality.