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NHS Data Breach Compensation Claims Guide

By Jo Greenwood. Last Updated 7th September 2023. Welcome to our guide looking at what could be an NHS data breach. In this article, we’re going to look at data breach compensation UK and data breach compensation examples including those for NHS staff data breaches.

You’ve no doubt heard about the General Data Protection Regulation, referred to by its acronym GDPR. It was a new law established in 2018 by the European Union. The Data Protection Act 2018 enacted it into law in this country. The purpose of the new law is to give you more control over your personal data and when organisations can hold it.

Legal Expert can support you through a data breach claim. We start by providing a non-obligatory telephone assessment of the claim you’re thinking of making. The advisor will give you free legal advice and could connect you with a specialist solicitor from our panel if your claim has the potential to succeed. Importantly, if your claim is accepted, your solicitor will provide their services on a No Win No Fee basis.

To start a data breach compensation claim right away, please call us on 0800 0703 8804 today. Alternatively, please read on to find out how you may be able to claim against the NHS for a data breach with evidence before calling our specialist advisors.

NHS data breach compensation claims

Learn how to claim compensation for an NHS data breach

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What Is An NHS Data Breach?

You’ll see GDPR notifications on pretty much every website you visit these days. They’re boxes that pop up when you visit a website for the first time. However, GDPR regulations aren’t just for online services. If you visit a hospital, GP surgery or any other NHS service, you’re likely to complete a questionnaire about your data.

For instance, at a hospital, you might be asked to tick boxes to say that you’re happy for your records to be shared with other NHS departments such as your GP, mental health services, or social care services depending on the nature of your visit. The NHS then needs to store your choices and act upon them correctly when using any data they’ve obtained from you.

In this guide, we’ll look at data breach claim examples, the reasons why you might be entitled to compensation and the amount that might be awarded.

Importantly, there are time limits for making such a claim that you’ll need to consider. These are:

  • A one-year time period for public bodies. This would include institutions like the NHS, meaning you would have one year to make an NHS data breach claim. 
  • A six-year time period if you’re making a data breach claim against private companies.

Our team of specialist solicitors can provide a No Win No Fee service if your claim is accepted and will work with you to obtain the evidence required to support the case. While there is a process involving the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) which we’ll discuss later, it’s possible that your solicitor could start a claim against the NHS on your behalf and reach a settlement without the need for an ICO investigation

A personal data breach is a security incident that can compromise the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of any processed personal information.

How Long Do I Have To Claim Compensation For An NHS Data Breach?

Your name, date of birth and details of any medical conditions you may have could be collected and stored by the NHS. Data breach compensation claims could be made when the organisation processing this data fails to protect it. However, the claims process must be started within the time limit. 

This is generally six years from the date you were notified of the incident for a medical data breach. However, if the claim is made against a public body, this is reduced to one year. 

Should an NHS data breach compromise your personal data, you may want to know about your potential options. Get in touch with one of our advisors to discuss your possible next steps.

NHS Data Breaches and UK GDPR

As mentioned earlier, the GDPR is a law designed to protect people’s personal data and to give them control over who can store it, process it and who it can be passed on to. For clarity, personal data is information that can be used to identify a person directly or indirectly including names, location information, email addresses, browsing history, gender, biometric information and ethnicity.

If the GDPR rules are not followed by the NHS, and that causes you to suffer, then you could be entitled to seek compensation for any harm caused, provided that you can prove the breach occurred. Please discuss what effect the breach has had with one of our advisors for free advice on your next steps.

How Can The NHS Breach Data Protection Laws?

When making a claim for an NHS data breach, it’s important to understand that they’re possible against any part of the organisation. For instance, claims could be possible against:

While it’s possible for medical data breach claims to arise because of an NHS cyber-attack or inadequate computer or network security leading to a data hack, most cases are caused by human error.

While the GDPR regulations are relatively new, staff should be fully trained on when and why they can share your personal data with others. As explained earlier, your personal information cannot be shared without your prior agreement. If it is, you could be entitled to seek compensation because of an NHS data breach.

How Could The NHS Breach A Person’s Data?

Examples of how the NHS could breach data rules include:

  • Sharing your medical records with unapproved organisations.
  • Leaving printed documents containing your data lying around.
  • Staff accessing your records when there was no professional reason to do so.
  • Where your personal information was emailed or posted to the wrong patient.
  • Staff leaving computer screens unlocked allowing your data to be seen.
  • Cybersecurity breaches such as computer viruses, malware or ransomware.

It is possible that you, or the NHS, will never find out about a data breach involving your data but if they become aware of it, they should contact you to let you know how it happened and what data was accessed.

If you have reason to believe you’ve been affected by an NHS privacy violation, please let us know and we’ll provide a free assessment of your claim to see how much compensation you could be entitled to.

Do I Need Evidence To Claim Compensation For A Medical Data Breach?

Should a medical data breach occur affecting your personal information and causing you physical and emotional harm as a result, you may wonder what steps you could take next. Firstly, if the breach of your personal data could infringe on your rights and freedoms, the organisation should inform you of its occurrence without undue delay.

The organisation may alert you to a breach involving your personal data in writing. For example, by sending you an email or letter. If you are claiming compensation for a medical data breach, you can submit this as evidence.

Article 82 of the UK GDPR gives you the right to compensation. However, you must be able to prove that the data breach occurred due to the data controller’s or processor’s failure to adhere to data protection legislation and this caused you emotional harm or financial loss as a result.

Data breaches can impact you in several ways including psychologically and financially. Evidence to prove this can help support your claim. For example, if you are claiming for stress due to a data breach, you might have to submit your medical records or undergo an independent medical evaluation. Alternatively, your financial records, such as bank statements or a credit report, could be submitted to show your monetary losses.

If you have evidence that your personal data was breached, call our advisors for free advice about what your next steps could be. They can also answer the question ‘can I claim for an NHS data breach?’.

Have Any NHS Organisations Been Fined By The ICO?

In this section of our guide, we’re going to provide some examples of data security breaches that have made it into the news.

In the first example, an NHS Trust was fined £180,000 because the 56 Dean Street Clinic in London sent an email to nearly 800 patients in 2015 who had attended HIV clinics. However, the clinic failed to send the email correctly which meant each recipient could see the name and email address of the other recipients.

The Information Commissioner stated that the mistake was a “serious breach of the law”. The problem was made worse because even though the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust made a statement to explain that not all recipients were HIV positive, many recipients were fearful that they would be recognised because the Trust covers such a small geographical area. The investigation went on to reveal that the same Trust had made the same type of error in 2010.

Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-36247186

In another case, staff at Ipswich Hospital were disciplined after accessing the medical records of Ed Sheeran with no clinical reason to do so. While the full details of the case haven’t been revealed, the BBC obtained information after submitting a Freedom of Information request that two members of staff had accessed his medical information after he broke his arm in a cycling accident in 2018. One member of medical staff received a written warning for their actions while a member of admin staff was dismissed.

Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-suffolk-4415578

Compensation Payouts In Data Breach Claims

If you were to make a successful claim should an NHS data protection breach occur and involve your personal data, you may be curious as to what you could claim for. There are two heads of loss that could be included in a successful personal data breach claim.

Firstly, if you have suffered material damage, such as stolen funds taken from your account, fraudulent purchases made in your name or a loss of earnings due to taking time away from work after suffering a subsequent mental injury, you could be compensated for this.

Secondly, if you have suffered non-material damage such as depression, stress or anxiety, this too can be compensated. We’ve included a table using figures from the 16th edition of the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG) below. The JCG provides guideline amount brackets for different psychological injuries.

Type of ClaimSeverityCompensation RangeAdditional Comments
Psychiatric DamageSevere£54,830 to £115,730In this category, the claimant will have a poor prognosis and marked problems coping with life, work or education and relationships with family and friends. Future vulnerability and whether treatment would help are also factors used to consider the settlement amount.
Psychiatric DamageModerately Severe£19,070 to £54,830This category is used where the symptoms are very similar to the category above but where medical evidence suggests a much better prognosis.
Psychiatric DamageModerate£5,860 to £19,070This category covers cases where the claimants ability to work, enjoy life and relationships have been affected but where there is a good prognosis and there has been a marked improvement.
Psychiatric DamageLess Severe£1,540 to £5,860In this category, the amount of time the claimant suffered and how long sleep and other daily activities were affected will be considered.
PTSDSevere£59,860 to £100,670A permanent dysfunction in daily life that impacts all aspects.
PTSDModerately Severe£23,150 to £59,860Although there is a better chance of recovery with the help of a professional than in more severe PTSD, the claimant is expected to experience a significant disability for some time into the future.
PTSDModerate£8,180 to £23,150Some symptoms that are not particularly disabling remain, but overall, the claimant has largely recovered.
PTSDLess Severe£3,950 to £8,180Virtually a full recovery from PTSD symptoms.

To find out if you could make a claim following an NHS data breach, call our advisors today for a free case assessment.

NHS Data Breach Compensation Claims And No Win No Fee Solicitors

Claiming compensation for a breach of confidentiality is not without its hurdles. The burden of proof is on you, the claimant, to prove that you’ve suffered harm due to the exposure of your personal data. This is why people often turn to data breach solicitors to assist them. The good news is, you don’t have to pay upfront fees to obtain assistance from a data breach solicitor.

Under a Conditional Fee Agreement, a data breach solicitor could work on your claim without taking any payment unless your claim ends successfully, and your medical data breach compensation comes through. These are what are often called No Win No Fee claims. Should your claim not end with a compensation payout, your solicitor would not take a fee from you. You would not have to cover their costs in pursuing your claim either.

The success fee they would deduct from your compensation payout is legally capped, and cannot exceed this amount. This means you would always receive the majority of the payout.

We could help assess whether you could make a No Win No Fee claim with one of our data breach solicitors. Why not get in touch to find out more?

Call Our Team To Claim For An NHS Data Breach

If you’ve decided you’d like to proceed and would like the support of Legal Expert, here are the best ways to get in touch:

  • Call our specialist advisors to discuss your claim for free on 0800 073 8804
  • Email us with information about the data breach to info@legalexpert.co.uk.
  • Start an online claim and we’ll arrange to call you back.
  • Ask an online advisor for claims advice using our online chat system.

Please remember, we’ll provide free advice on your options even if you don’t go on to begin a claim.

Extra Resources On Claiming NHS Data Breach Compensation

In this final section of our article on what is an NHS data breach, we’ve linked to some additional guides and resources that you might find helpful.

At Legal Expert, we can also offer advice and support for a wide range of personal injury claims, including claims for different types of medical negligence. You can check out the following examples below:

Thank you for reading our guide which covers claiming for an NHS staff data breach, NHS data breach compensation UK and data breach compensation examples. If you have any further questions about claiming for an NHS data breach, contact us at a time that suits you.

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      Patrick is a Grade A solicitor having qualified in 2005. He's an an expert in accident at work and public liability claims and is currently our head of the EL/PL department. Get in touch today for free to see how we can help you.