NHS Highland (Data Breach)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 20th June 2019.

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Photo of David Stewart David Stewart Labour

The First Minister will be well aware of an alleged data breach by NHS Highland, which exposed the confidential names and email addresses of 37 people living with HIV. Although I welcome the apology by the board of NHS Highland, does the First Minister share my view that confidentiality is a core principle of the national health service and that the decision to disclose HIV status is a matter for the individuals themselves and is theirs alone?

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

I strongly agree with that view and with the sentiments behind Dave Stewart’s question. The safety of patient data is of the utmost importance and, as required, the incident has been reported to the information commissioner—that happened within 24 hours.

NHS Highland has rightly taken steps to apologise to patients and to respond directly and speedily to any concerns raised. A formal, internal review of the incident is being conducted to understand any failings—and clearly there have been failings—and to consider what steps to take to ensure that such a breach does not happen in the future.