HYWEL DDA UHB has written to around 3,000 patients after an internal investigation revealed that a former nurse had inappropriately accessed electronic hospital records.
The individual, who cannot be named as they are currently the subject of an investigation by the Information Commissioner, worked as a nurse at Glangwili Hospital, but the records accessed cover the whole of the Hywel Dda UHB area.
The nurse has since been dismissed for breaching patient confidentiality and acting outside of their professional code of conduct and the Health Board’s own policies on data protection and information governance.
All patients affected, which include staff members, have been written to and offered the opportunity to discuss the situation with the Health Board through a free helpline number, which can be contacted on 0800 804 8787.
In a media briefing held on Thursday (Jul 7), Hywel Dda UHB Chief Executive, Steve Moore, said that the breach was initially identified at the end of last year after a fellow staff member raised concerns, but the information was not made public until all those affected had been identified and informed.
Mr Moore said: “This is a matter that we take extremely seriously and I have written to every patient directly affected to apologise for the actions taken by this individual which go against their own professional code of conduct and health board policies and procedures.
“We are able to reassure people that our review has shown no changes or amendments were made to records. It also produced no evidence that the information has been used by the individual for any purpose other than to view.”
He added: “We understand and acknowledge how distressing this is for those individuals affected, especially for any who may be vulnerable and we have set up a free helpline should they wish to discuss this further with us.”
The Health Board has identified areas for improvement and taken action to improve checking access to electronic hospital records and managing performance and supervision to avoid something similar from happening again.
An electronic system which will provide a more efficient way of checking access has been introduced. The National Intelligent Integrated Auditing System (NIIAS) is licensed for use by all health boards.
Mr Moore said that it was ‘difficult to speculate’ about why the individual concerned accessed the records, but acknowledged that, although the records accessed did not relate to any specific ward or diagnosis, the selection was ‘not entirely random’.
The Health Board has also proactively referred this to the Information Commissioner’s Office to investigate. The Information Commissioner is responsible for upholding rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and privacy for individuals. It is an independent regulatory office dealing with the Data Protection Act and has its own enforcement rights for any breaches under the Act.
Should the Information Commissioner’s Office determine the access constitutes a breach, they have the power to commence criminal proceedings against the individual. Equally, the Information Commissioner could fine against the Health Board should they consider it failed to take appropriate organisational or technical measures to protect individuals’ personal data.
The individual responsible has been referred to the Nursing and Midwifery Council, who will decide what further action should be taken.
Mr Moore added: “May I again sincerely apologise that a former member of staff, whilst in a position of trust, has acted in this way. This should not have happened and I know that our own staff, like our Board, will be shocked at this situation, especially our wonderful nurses who hold patient confidentiality at the core of their values. I hope our patients, staff and public will be assured of our on-going commitment to avoid something like this from happening again.”
Medical Director, Dr Philip Kloer, said that he was ‘extremely disappointed’ by the news, but stressed that this incident was not in any way representative of Hywel Dda’s staff. He described the breach as ‘unprecedented’, adding that the health board had dealt with breaches before, but nothing on this scale.
Dr Kloer also acknowledged that the audit had only been able to access data going back to 2013, and that the nurse in question was a ‘permanent employee who has been working for us for a number of years’.
Hywel Dda UHB has emphasised that if people have not been contacted directly by the health board about this situation then they are unaffected and do not need to take further action. Anyone who has been contacted and who is distressed or has concerns, can contact the free helpline on 0800 804 8787. Please note it is open between the hours of 5pm and 9pm Monday- Friday and 9am-4pm Saturday and Sunday until July 21.
Werndale Hospital recognised for outstanding patient care in national award
STAFF at Werndale Hospital near Carmarthen have been recognised for the quality of their patient care.
The prestigious ‘Private Hospital Group of the Year’ award is presented to an organisation that has shown excellence in its delivery of care, commitment to the community and innovation within healthcare.
Werndale Hospital was also recognised for their initiatives to support staff in their career progression and wellbeing.
The latest statistics show, 98% of patients at Werndale Hospital were satisfied with their overall level of care, 98% of patients would recommend their care to family and friends, and 98% of patients rated the nursing staff as excellent or very good.
In addition, independent analysis of Circle hospitals’ hip and knee procedure outcomes of health improvement shows that Circle scored 8.4 versus an independent sector average of 7.8 in the hip category, and a score of 15.4 versus an independent sector average of 13.9 in the knee category.
The award presented to Circle Health Group, owners of Werndale Hospital, in London in June, also noted the extraordinary contribution the teams at the hospital had made to the community.
In 2021 alone, Werndale Hospital partnered with Air Ambulance Wales and raised £1,205 to support the charity’s work in the community.
In addition to the charitable work, Werndale Hospital was recognised for it’s commitment to support staff through a series of wellbeing initiatives and career development opportunities. The judges were particularly impressed with the launch of the ‘Be Heard’ survey at the hospital.
The survey looks to empower staff to feedback on everything from the working environment at the hospital through to their own career ambitions. Building directly on the feedback from this survey, the ‘Grow Your Own’ campaign was launched which supported staff to work towards specific qualifications from nursing degrees with partnered universities through to bespoke management programmes and MBA qualifications.
As a direct result of this support for staff at what is a challenging time for healthcare workers, Werndale Hospital and Circle Heath Group were recognised as being a Top 20 Best Large Company to work for.
At the heart of Werndale Hospital’s approach to treating patients is a commitment to the community they serve.
Paolo Pieri, CEO of Circle Health Group, said: “The award is a testament to what an amazing year 2021 was for Werndale Hospital with considerable investment into the facilities and services on offer to patients in west Wales. I couldn’t be prouder of what our staff and doctors have achieved.”
Aberglasney Gardens delighted to win 2022 Trip advisor Travellers’ Choice Award
ABERGLASNEY Gardens is thrilled to have been recognised by Tripadvisor as a 2022 Travellers’ Choice Award winner for being in the top 10% of attractions worldwide.
The Award recognises businesses that consistently deliver great service with the Gardens being rated ‘Excellent’ by 342 visitors.
The award celebrates businesses that have received great traveller reviews from around the globe on Tripadvisor over the last 12 months. As challenging as the past year has been, Aberglasney stood out by consistently delivering positive experiences to visitors.
Aberglasney’s Director of Operations Jim Stribling said: “We are delighted to have once again won an award from Tripadvisor. It is fantastic recognition for the team’s hard work and dedication. To rank among the top ten percent of those listed on Trip Advisor as one of the best places to visit is outstanding.
“We are grateful to all those who take the time to leave us a review after visiting. It is no cliché when I say all the team, be it in the gift shop, the gardeners, the tearooms and the administrative team, all take the reviews on board to help make a visit to Aberglasney the best possible experience for everyone.”
Tripadvisor, the world’s largest travel guidance platform, helps hundreds of millions of people each month become better travellers, from planning, to booking, to taking a trip. Travelers across the globe use the Tripadvisor site and app to discover where to stay, what to do and where to eat based on guidance from those who have been there before.
With more than 988 million reviews and opinions of nearly eight million businesses, travellers turn to Tripadvisor to find deals on accommodation, book experiences, reserve tables at restaurants and discover great places nearby.
As a travel guidance company available in 43 markets and 22 languages, Tripadvisor makes planning easy no matter the trip type.
“Congratulations to the 2022 Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Winners,” said Kanika Soni, Chief Commercial Officer at Tripadvisor. “The Travellers’ Choice Awards recognise the best in tourism and hospitality, according to those who matter most: your guests.
“Ranking among the Travellers’ Choice winners is always tough – but never more so than this year as we emerge from the pandemic. Whether it’s using new technology, implementing safety measures, or hiring outstanding staff, I’m impressed by the steps you’ve taken to meet travellers’ new demands. You’ve adapted brilliantly in the face of adversity.”
Council’s plan to expand bilingual education will be a gradual journey over 10 years
CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council’s vision to increase bilingual education in Carmarthenshire will be a gradual journey over 10 years.
The Cabinet met yesterday (Monday, July 4) to discuss the Welsh in Education Strategic Plan (WESP), and emphasised that it was important to give all children and young people the opportunity to develop their Welsh language skills.
However, members stressed that families will still have a choice on the language in which their children will be taught over the next decade and after 2032.
The plan sets out how the council will develop Welsh language provision in schools based on the outcomes and targets set by the Welsh Government.
All councils across Wales have to submit 10-year Welsh language education plans to the Welsh Government in order to meet its target of one million Welsh speakers by 2050.
The outcomes include more nursery and reception children being taught through the medium of Welsh; more young people studying for qualifications in Welsh as a subject, and subjects through the medium of Welsh; increasing provision for learners with Additional Learning Needs; and increasing the number of teachers able to teach Welsh and through the medium of Welsh – with continuing support to develop staff through a comprehensive and flexible training programme.
The Cabinet said it was important for the council to provide more opportunities to be bilingual and referred to the various benefits it brings – from educational attainment to employability and health.
Cabinet Member for Education and Welsh Language, Cllr Glynog Davies said the aim was to meet and exceed the target set by Welsh Government on the percentage of Carmarthenshire pupils receiving their education through the medium of Welsh by 3032 (10-14%).
It included changing the language provision at 10 schools over the next 10 years creating an opportunity for a further 300 learners to be educated in Welsh.
He said: “We want to build on the progress made in early years education provision, and my ambition is clear – equal opportunities across the county.
“It is worth noting that we have the largest percentage 57.5 percent of nursery age children taught through the medium of Welsh. Immersion education is key to the strategy, and it is important that we continue to see an increase in the percentage of children transferring from the Meithrin groups to Welsh-medium education in the Foundation Phase.
“These early years are so important, the children are like sponges, absorbing information and absorbing a new language.
“We must then continue to see an increase in numbers in our reception classes, we say this even though we are the authority with the largest percentage (62.5 percent) of children receiving their education through the medium of Welsh.
“Children must continue to improve their Welsh when going from one school phase to another, and we need to make sure all children have the opportunity to pursue their secondary education through the medium of Welsh.
“At the same time, we need to give children and young people the confidence to use Welsh, in school and in the community. That’s what we want to see isn’t it, more and more using Welsh, hearing Welsh on the street. We need to develop and build on skills and confidence.”
Cabinet Member for Rural Affairs and Planning Policy, Cllr Ann Davies said: “I am extremely pleased to see this document and have a pleasure in supporting it. Working with young children, that is children under three-years-old, I can say that children pick up language very quickly, they absorb it, and the process is very different to learning a language. As they get older the process in the brain is completely different. I am pleased to see that there is an emphasis on early years, that is when we need to start.”
Cabinet Member for Resources, Cllr Alun Lenny said: “It is very important to state that there are many advantages to learning a language, obviously for careers, especially in health and social care where patients and clients must have a choice of language, it’s important particularly for older people, and young children, and people with dementia.
“The Chief Constable of Dyfed-Powys Police has stated he is keen for all his staff to speak a certain level of Welsh, so we have a duty here to support that.
“The advantages of being bilingual are multiple, socially and in the world of work, and this strategy is very much welcomed.”
The WESP has come back to the cabinet for discussion following feedback from the Welsh Government, mainly to include some additional data and detail. It will now be submitted to the Welsh Government for final approval. A public consultation was held last year.
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