Five letters with medical details of Royal Free patients sent out to wrong patient

PUBLISHED: 07:00 06 October 2016 | UPDATED: 10:56 06 October 2016

The Royal Free Hospital is at the centre of a data breach. Picture: PA/Anthony Devlin

The Royal Free Hospital is at the centre of a data breach. Picture: PA/Anthony Devlin

PA Archive/PA Images

A patient received multiple letters with the medical and personal details of other Royal Free Hospital patients in a huge breach of confidentiality

A gastroenterology patient from Gospel Oak received a bulging envelope with “private and confidential” letters addressed to other patients along with her own letter.

The five extra letters, seen by the Ham&High, include the medical histories and diagnoses of four people.

The mistake, believed to be a clerical error, breaches the most basic principle of doctor-patient confidentiality.

One of the patients is just 13 years old and another is 70.

The letters were sent out by the gastroenterology and allergy clinics of the hospital.

They are from Royal Free consultants and specialist nurses and are addressed to the patients’ GPs, as well as the patients themselves.

Details of prescriptions and test results are included.

The Gospel Oak patient said she believed the “fat” envelope might have contained her test results.

When she opened it and saw the other letters, she was in shock.

The 43-year-old did not read them and is now calling on the Royal Free to take action.

“It’s horrific – what if my stuff goes somewhere else? It’s a horrendous clinical error.”

She added: “Luckily I’m an honest person because if that got into the wrong hands... You can open an account, it’s got their date of birth, addresses.”

The mother-of-one is now concerned about what happened to the Royal Free appointment letters which she never received.

On two occasions in the past two years, she had calls about an appointment which she did not know about.

Leila Roy, councillor for Belsize, was shocked when she heard, describing it as a “breach of trust”.

“If I go to the hospital, I don’t want the neighbours to know what’s wrong with me.”

The Ham&High has returned the letters to the Royal Free.

A hospital spokeswoman said: “We take patient confidentiality extremely seriously and have launched an investigation into this incident.

“We would like to apologise to the patients affected. We are in the process of contacting those patients to inform them. We will be taking steps to ensure this error does not occur again.”

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

Yesterday, 15:35

Wage cuts for nurses covering sick leave and other increases in demand at Hampstead’s Royal Free Hospital have been postponed after workers threatened to cancel shifts en masse.

Yesterday, 15:00

Brexit uncertainty is one reason for a slowdown in Camden house prices, said a leading estate agent after new data showed that property values in the borough fell 0.8 per cent in August and 2.1pc in the last 12 months.

Yesterday, 14:05

Tickets for a public meeting into the future of the Phoenix Cinema have sold out within days of it being announced.

Yesterday, 13:57

Mitzvah Day volunteers from Hampstead were among those taking part in Sewa Day – a Hindu day of community action – in Kingsbury, Brent this weekend.

Yesterday, 10:29

As part of National Hate Crime Awareness Week, Haringey Police have been engaging with the community to raise awareness of the importance of reporting abuse and discrimination.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Community groups are celebrating after the owners of the “landmark” Alliance pub in West Hampstead had planning permission for extensive remodelling and redevelopment refused.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Twenty-five people, including eleven in Camden, have been charged with drugs offences after two-days of dawn raids in Camden, Islington, Brent and Lambeth.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Sardonic, sarcastic and funny are three of the words that have been used to describe the late-SOAS lecturer and King’s Cross local Prof Lawrence Saez, who died at the beginning of September.


Looking to get your child interested in a sport? Allianz Park, home to rugby union team Saracens, welcomes people of all ages to join their family of supporters and discover how their core values Honesty, Discipline, Humility and Work Rate underpin everything they do off and on the pitch.

As part of a major refurb, the London Marriott Hotel Maida Vale has renamed its three new-look function rooms to reflect the geography and rich history of the area. The largest, perfect for weddings and large meetings, is named after a Hampstead subterranean river, The Westbourne.

Londoners seeking high quality houses for sale within easy commuting distance of the capital are being advised to look north to St Albans’ prestigious Gabriel Square development.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now