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Patients contacted after hospital records inappropriately accessed

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shutterstock_160262162HYWEL DDA University Health Board has written to a large number of patients, to provide them with information and support after an investigation identified a member of staff had inappropriately accessed electronic hospital records.

The individual, a nurse, has since been dismissed after breaching patient confidentiality and acting outside of their professional code of conduct and the Health Board’s own policies on data protection and information governance. The Health Board says it has also referred the situation to the Information Commissioner for independent investigation.

All patients affected, which include staff members, have been written to and offered the opportunity to discuss the situation with the Health Board through a free helpline number, which can be contacted on 0800 804 8787. Please note it is open between the hours of 5pm and 9pm Monday-Friday and 9am-4pm Saturday and Sunday until Jul 21.

Chief Executive Steve Moore said: “This is a matter that we take extremely seriously and I have written to every patient directly affected to apologise for the actions taken by this individual which go against their own professional code of conduct and health board policies and procedures.

“We are able to reassure people that our review has shown no changes or amendments were made to records. It also produced no evidence that the information has been used by the individual for any purpose other than to view.”

He added: “We understand and acknowledge how distressing this is for those individuals affected, especially for any who may be vulnerable and we have set up a free helpline should they wish to discuss this further with us.”

Members of the Health Board’s management identified the breach late last year and a review took place to establish the extent of the issue. The Health Board has identified areas for improvement and taken action to improve checking access to electronic hospital records and managing performance and supervision to avoid something similar from happening again.

The Health Board has also proactively referred this to the Information Commissioner’s Office to investigate. The Information Commissioner is responsible for upholding rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and privacy for individuals. It is an independent regulatory office dealing with the Data Protection Act and has its own enforcement rights for any breaches under the Act.

Should the Information Commissioner’s Office determine the access constitutes a breach, they have the power to commence criminal proceedings against the individual. Equally, the Information Commissioner could fine against the Health Board should they consider it failed to take appropriate organisational or technical measures to protect individuals’ personal data.

Mr Moore added: “May I again sincerely apologise that a former member of staff, whilst in a position of trust, has acted in this way. This should not have happened and I know that our own staff, like our Board, will be shocked at this situation, especially our wonderful nurses who hold patient confidentiality at the core of their values. I hope our patients, staff and public will be assured of our ongoing commitment to avoid something like this from happening again.”

If you have not been contacted directly by the health board about this situation then you are unaffected and do not need to take further action. Anyone who has been contacted and who is distressed or has concerns, can contact the free helpline on 0800 804 8787. Please note it is open between the hours of 5pm and 9pm Monday-Friday and 9am-4pm Saturday and Sunday until Jul 21.

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Man denies £7,000 burglary

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A MAN from West Sussex has today denied carrying out a £7,000 burglary in Lampeter.

Kurtis Poat, aged 23, appeared at Swansea Crown Court for a plea and trial preparation hearing before Judge Paul Thomas.

Poat, of Osborne Crescent, Chichester, denied breaking into a house in Nantyglyn, Cwmann, in May, 2017, and stealing a tin containing £7,000 in cash.

Poat faces a two day trial scheduled to begin on April 11 and was granted bail until then.

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Campaigners urge air gun licensing following cat shootings

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CATS PROTECTION is urging the UK’s cat lovers to join a call on the Westminster government to introduce air gun licensing in Wales and England, following in the footsteps of Scotland and Northern Ireland where it is illegal to own air weapons without licence.

The government is currently holding a public consultation into air weapon regulation, including licensing, which closes on February 6, making this the ideal time for cat lovers to make their voices heard by sending an e-mail to the Home Office.

To take part people should visit www.cats.org.uk/airgunsconsultation where they can adapt and send the e-mail. People can also watch a video showing some of the feline victims of air gun shootings, which some may find upsetting.

Victims of air gun shootings include Jalapeno, a black-and-white cat from Bridgend who was shot in the eye, and Chaos, a black-and-white cat from South Wales who was shot between her eyes, shattering the bones in her nose.

Luckily both Jalapeno and Chaos survived their injuries after receiving emergency veterinary care.

However, in March 2017, a cat from Barry was fatally shot, as was a cat from Llanell in August 2017.

“Shocking air gun attacks like the ones on Jalapeno and Chaos are by no means rare,” explains Jacqui Cuff, Cats Protection’s Head of Advocacy & Government Relations.

“Our monitoring of UK press reports shows that three cats are killed or injured by an air gun each week and this is likely to be an underestimate because most attacks are never witnessed or reported. Worse still, over 90% of these shootings take place in Wales and England where it is legal for anyone over 18 to purchase an air gun and ammunition without the need for a licence.

“These attacks cause immense pain and suffering to cats as well as anguish for their owners and fear in their local communities for the safety of people and pets.”

Cats Protection believes that if licensing were introduced, it would be easier to track down culprits who use these weapons to inflict harm on cats.

The charity wants to ensure that cats in Wales and England are fully protected. Those who have a legitimate reason to purchase, possess and use an air gun will be able to retain ownership and would simply need to apply for a licence.

Jacqui added: “Last year over 90,000 people signed an online and paper Cats Protection petition calling for the licensing of air guns in Wales and England, showing the depth of public feeling on the issue. Our hope is that as many people as possible email the government in support of air gun licensing so that we can make the whole of the UK a safer place for cats, animals and human beings.”

Cats Protection is the UK’s leading feline welfare charity and helps around 190,000 cats each year through a national network of over 250 volunteer-run branches and 34 centres.

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Police crack down on drink and drug driving

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NEARLY 100 people were arrested by Dyfed-Powys Police for drink and drug driving in December, as a result of the All Wales Christmas Anti Drink and Drug Drive Campaign.

The month-long operation against driving under the influence ran from Friday, December 1, and police forces across the country used intelligence-led tactics and local knowledge of hotspots to detect people driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol over the festive period.

98 people were arrested by Dyfed-Powys Police.

Supt. Huw Meredith, Specialist Operations, said: “We adopt a proactive, targeted and intelligence-led approach to drink and drug driving, using specialist Roads Policing resources and response officers.

“The number of arrests indicates that sadly some are prepared to risk the lives of others and themselves by driving under the influence of drink or drugs.

“Our message is the same all year round – don’t drink/take drugs and drive.”

In 2017 Dyfed-Powys Police arrested 452 people for drink and drug driving.

Operation Snap also launched in December, allowing members of the public throughout Wales to submit footage and images showing traffic offences being committed – from driving dangerously or carelessly to contravening solid white lines, using a mobile phone while driving or ignoring traffic lights.

To submit footage to any of the four Welsh Police Forces, visit https://gosafesnap.wales/ or https://gosafesnap.cymru.

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