Hospital apologises for voicemail privacy breach in Manchester

Sensitive patient information inadvertently heard by man calling to change appointment

A hospital has apologised after sensitive voicemail messages left by patients were heard by a man trying to change an appointment over the phone.

Brian Newton reported that he heard recordings of people sharing personal information with the Manchester Royal Eye hospital on Tuesday.

A spokesperson for Manchester University NHS foundation trust said the issue on the telephone line had been rectified and an investigation into the incident was being carried out.

“We are in the process of contacting the patients affected and we have apologised unreservedly to those patients,” the spokesperson said. “We wish to reassure the public and our patients that the trust takes the security of patients’ personal information extremely seriously.”

Newton, 58, told the BBC: “I pressed ‘zero’ to speak to an operator and started hearing the messages. One lady was very distressed – she was cancelling an appointment because her husband had died.”

After dialling the same number as Newton, a BBC Radio Manchester journalist also heard the voicemails.

Newton, a taxi driver from Blackley in Manchester, said he could not believe what he was hearing. “I started thinking: ‘Is somebody hearing my message?’ I was thinking anybody could exploit this personal information.”

Although Newton contacted the hospital the next day to report the issue, he said he heard the messages when he called again later.


Amy Walker

The GuardianTramp

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