Parents were sent health information for the wrong children in the United Kingdom

31 May 2013

By Cathy Buss

An investigation has been launched after private health details of dozens of children were sent to the wrong parents.

More than 150 letters containing results from a school programme measuring children’s heights and weights were sent to the wrong addresses a fortnight ago.

The issue came to light when a head teacher contacted Leicestershire County Council and a parent Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, which was responsible for sending out the letters.

The matter has been reported to the Information Commissioner.

In a statement, the health trust said: “We are aware that during the automatic enveloping of letters on May 17 to parents and carers about their child’s height and weight measurement, a technical error occurred.

“This involved two letters instead of one being put into the same envelope by our automatic enveloping machine.

“Unfortunately, this meant approximately 150 letters, which contained the details of children who were a healthy weight were sent to the wrong parents and carers.”

A total of 1,362 letters were sent out. All contained details of children in the “healthy weight” category.

Parents with children in the overweight categories had been notified earlier.

Trust officials said: “We are very sorry this error has occurred and we took immediate action to send apology letters to all of the parents involved.

“We also sent a letter to all other parents who may have received the wrong letter in error, asking them to return the letter to us in a stamped, addressed envelope.

“We recognise it was unfortunate this technical process error was not identified before the letters were posted.

“We take patient confidentiality very seriously and we immediately launched an internal inquiry to understand what happened and how this could be prevented in the future.”

A spokesman said 19 letters had been returned in the envelopes supplied by the trust so far.

Mike Sandys, joint acting director of public health at Leicestershire County Council, said: “It is unfortunate but Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust picked up the mistake quickly and has done the right thing in reporting this to the Information Commissioner.

“We will be meeting the trust next month to seek assurance this won’t happen again.”

A spokesman for the Information Commissioner said it was deciding what action, if any, was required.

He confirmed an investigation into the publication of the personal details of more than 1,000 NHS staff on the internet in December was continuing.

A database of NHS workers who leased a car as part of their employment is thought to have been published accidentally by a contractor for East Midlands Ambulance Service.

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