Thursday, 26 April 2007

Indefensible


The appalling security breach by MTAS, that has left copious amounts of personal information regarding young doctors open to access by anyone with access to the Internet, is as flagrant breach of the Data protection act as is humanly possible. Junior doctors can expect certain rights to be respected under this act:

"(iii) The right to take steps to prevent your personal data being processed if the processing is likely to cause you or someone else to suffer substantial damage or substantial distress which
is unjustified.

(vii) If you have suffered damage and distress as a result of a data controller failing to comply with the Act, you have the right to claim compensation from the data controller."

I am not sure if iii) would justify a mass boycott of MTAS, however it is definite that vii) entitles junior doctors to claim for compensation. The first port of call for compensation is via contacting the DoH, the 'data controller' in this case.

I would strongly encourage juniors affected to complain to the Information Commissioner's Office. This can be done here with this form. As if the ICO find that the DoH/MTAS has broken the Act then compensation claims could be taken to court. Click here for advice if you are particularly worried about the potential for the fraudulent use of your data.

Its hard to find words to describe how shocking this latest gaff is. Matt Jameson-Evans from Remedy UK summed up very well the way junior doctors are now feeling:

"I'm absolutely gob-smacked, I don't know whether to laugh or cry. I'm not going to be able to laugh because it's so serious. After I've scraped my jaw up off the floor I'll say that I'm not really surprised - it's a level of ineptitude that has characterised this whole process. It takes the concept of a botched IT job just to a new dimension."

I think a great way of making this deeply incompetent government pay for their literal crimes would be for all juniors affected to claim compensation and donate these funds to Remedy UK. Remedy UK has been the only organisation that has fought hard for juniors and they are one of the few rays of light in an otherwise grim looking landscape.

The spineless nature of the government and Patricia Hewitt in particular was emphatically demonstrated by another no show on the Channel 4 news, which was her umpteenth no show for that matter. Meanwhile the BBC reported on the matter in a typically Labour tinted manner, no surprise there then. The Telegraph and the Guardian have covered events a little better. On a tangent, take a look at this hilarious piece by Dr Crippen which shows just how Labour have lost the plot. Why do these incompetents hide in times of trouble when the public deserves to hear some answers from them?

This latest balls-up must draw into question the plans for NHS Spine, as if the DoH cannot organise a few thousand doctors applying for jobs centrally without leaking all their personal information; think of the potential for mayhem of a far greater magnitude. The Health Select Committee is due to investigate this soon and evidence has already been submitted, surely this MTAS breach will impact upon their thinking?

I have argued with many people over the past few weeks over the dubious benefits of centralisation in certain circumstances. Even if things go smoothly, it is still arguable that there is no need to centralise as the potential benefits may not outweigh the great cost; however we have seen in recent weeks and years, that these grandiose schemes frequently go anything but smoothly in the hands of HMG.

1 comment:

psychopharm said...

Yes, your're right about compensation. This is a shocker and they should go for it! Absolutely disgraceful. Unbelievable!!