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'Lucky I'm not a fraudster, I guess': Hornchurch man shocked to receive stranger's confidential medical history in the post

PUBLISHED: 07:00 11 October 2018

When opened, the package contained two sets of prescription medication, as well as a piece of paper detailing the intended recipient's full name, date of birth, NHS number and recent medical history (pixelated to protect her privacy). Photo: Matt Clemenson

When opened, the package contained two sets of prescription medication, as well as a piece of paper detailing the intended recipient's full name, date of birth, NHS number and recent medical history (pixelated to protect her privacy). Photo: Matt Clemenson

Archant

A Hornchurch resident was stunned when he opened a parcel he thought contained jerk chicken sauce, and instead found a box filled with prescription medicines and the detailed medical history of a woman he had never met.

The package of prescription drugs intended for a woman in Middlesbrough which was delivered to a man in Hornchurch. Photo: Matt ClemensonThe package of prescription drugs intended for a woman in Middlesbrough which was delivered to a man in Hornchurch. Photo: Matt Clemenson

The Saunton Road resident - who wishes to remain anonymous – had ordered some jerk chicken he had tried for the first time and massively enjoyed at the Havering Show in August, and when a parcel arrived with his name on it on Saturday, September 29, he thought he was set to enjoy another taste.

But upon opening the package, he was shocked to discover a white and green paper bag containing a large packet of medicated plasters and a box of Buscopan tablets – medication used to treat irritable bowel syndrome.

Worst of all, the parcel also contained a piece of paper indicating that this package was meant to be delivered to a woman in Middlesbrough, and contained a treasure trove of her personal data including her full name, address, date of birth, NHS number and a long and detailed write up of her recent medical history.

The concerned resident immediately realised a mistake had been made, and contacted the company who had delivered the drugs, PharmacyOutlet.

When opened, the package contained two sets of prescription medication, as well as a piece of paper detailing the intended recipient's full name, date of birth, NHS number and recent medical history (pixelated to protect her privacy). Photo: Matt ClemensonWhen opened, the package contained two sets of prescription medication, as well as a piece of paper detailing the intended recipient's full name, date of birth, NHS number and recent medical history (pixelated to protect her privacy). Photo: Matt Clemenson

His complaint to them read: “This morning I have received a package from you, which is odd because I have never ordered from you.

“The actual customer is a lady in Middlesbrough, along with her prescription there is a note of all the medication she takes, her date of birth, her NHS number, her address and the medical centre she is listed with.

“If I was her I would be very concerned as to who you have given all her details to, lucky I’m not a fraudster I guess.”

In email correspondence seen by the Recorder, PharmacyOutlet’s pharmacist superintendent, Hitesh Dodhia, told the resident the matter would be investigated.

He said: “I can assure you that we are taking this matter seriously, and to be honest, we are a little shocked that this has happened.

“I will be investigating this matter – it’s never happened since we started in 2015, and in my professional work as a pharmacist in the last 20 years – however, we will be contacting the Information Commissioner’s Office to notify them of our breach.

“Rest assured, I will get back to you once we fully understand what has happened.”

The resident has since received no further update.

An ICO spokeswoman could not confirm whether the organisation had been contacted or not, but said: “All organisations processing personal data should do so safely and securely particularly when special category data such as medical information is involved.

“If anyone has concerns about how their data has been handled, they can report these concerns to us and we can look into the details.”

PharmacyOutlet did not respond to the Recorder’s request for comment.

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