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London pharmacy fined after “careless” storage of patient data

Friday, 20 December, 2019
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The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined a London-based pharmacy £275,000 for failing to ensure the security of special category data.
Doorstep Dispensaree Ltd, which supplies medicines to customers and care homes, left approximately 500,000 documents in unlocked containers at the back of its premises in Edgware. The documents included names, addresses, dates of birth, NHS numbers, medical information and prescriptions belonging to an unknown number of people.

Documents, some of which had not been appropriately protected against the elements and were therefore water damaged, were dated between June 2016 and June 2018. Failing to process data in a manner that ensures appropriate security against unauthorised or unlawful processing and accidental loss, destruction or damage is an infringement of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).
The ICO launched its investigation into Doorstep Dispensaree after it was alerted to the insecurely stored documents by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, which was carrying out its own separate enquiry into the pharmacy.

Steve Eckersley, Director of Investigations at the ICO said:

The careless way Doorstep Dispensaree stored special category data failed to protect it from accidental damage or loss. This falls short of what the law expects and it falls short of what people expect.

In setting the fine, the ICO only considered the contravention from 25 May 2018, when the GDPR came into effect.
Doorstep Dispensaree has also been issued an enforcement notice due to the significance of the contraventions and ordered to improve its data protection practices within three months. Failure to do so could result in further enforcement action.

Full details of the investigation can be found in the Monetary Penalty Notice here.

For further information, please contact ICO: casework@ico.org.uk 

Notes to Editors

  1. This is the first fine issued by the Information Commissioner’s Office under the General Data Protection Regulation, which came into effect on 25 May 2018.
  2. Special category data is personal data that needs more protection because it is sensitive. For example, health data, information about your sexuality, religion or political beliefs. More information can be found here.
  3. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is the UK’s independent regulator for data protection and information rights law, upholding information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.
  4. The ICO has specific responsibilities set out in the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA2018), the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR), Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 (PECR) and a further five Acts / Regulations.
  5. The ICO can take action to change the behaviour of organisations and individuals that collect, use and keep personal information. This includes criminal prosecution, non-criminal enforcement and audit. For more information, see our Regulatory Action Policy.
  6. To report a concern to the ICO telephone our helpline 0303 123 1113 or go to ico.org.uk/concerns.