A WOMAN says she feels “violated” after Bolton NHS Foundation Trust passed her medical details on to a third party without permission.
Sharron Knott was shocked when she received a letter from The University of Salford asking if they could come to her first physiotherapy appointment at the hospital as part of a research project.
The 52-year-old, from Sharples, got the letter just days after booking an appointment at the Royal Bolton Hospital following a referral from her GP.
She said passing on her details and medical information to the university had breached data protection laws.
But the Trust and the university released a joint statement denying that and saying their method of contacting patients had been approved by a national ethics committee.
Ms Knott, whose work at Salford Council involves dealing with revenues and benefits, said she deals with data protection issues there every day.
She has complained to both the Trust and the university after receiving the letter on February 9 which said the Trust had passed her details on.
She said: “In this day and age I can’t believe the NHS would ever think of doing something like this.”
Ms Knott, who suffers from back problems, said she wants “guarantees” that the Trust would implement a procedure to stop the same thing happening again.
She is concerned how many other people’s privacy has been “breached”.
Heather Edwards, head of communications at the Trust, said the university and the Trust took patient confidentiality “extremely seriously” and were confident there had not been a breach. She said the research assistant from the university was on an honorary contract and was acting as a Trust employee.
But Mrs Edwards apologised for not sending the letter on Trust paper.
She said: “The letter did go out on Salford University paper and was franked in Salford and we fully accept this shouldn’t have happened — it should have been Bolton NHS Foundation Trust paper and we apologise for this.
“We will ensure this does not happen again. Only the Trust’s physiotherapy administrative staff and the approved research assistant had access to the required information, which was only name and address of patients.”