Harris orders inquiry over claim woman had details leaked after abortion

Minister describes as ‘disturbing’ the thought that ‘patient details could be leaked’

Minister for Health Simon Harris  described as ‘extraordinarily concerning and disturbing’ the thought that ‘anyone’s patient details could be leaked’ Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Minister for Health Simon Harris described as ‘extraordinarily concerning and disturbing’ the thought that ‘anyone’s patient details could be leaked’ Photograph: Aidan Crawley

 

Minister for Health Simon Harris has ordered the Health Service Executive to investigate an alleged breach of patient information in relation to a woman who had an abortion at a Dublin hospital.

On Friday he described as “extraordinarily concerning and disturbing” the thought that “anyone’s patient details could be leaked”.

It was claimed on social media that the woman who had a medical termination in the National Maternity Hospital (NMH) at Holles Street was later contacted by an anti-abortion group by phone inviting her to a scan.

It was further claimed she was in contact with the Well Woman Centre about her pregnancy and may have been referred for an ultrasound before being referred to the NMH.

A spokeswoman for Mr Harris said the Minister was concerned by the allegations raised on social media.

“He has asked the HSE to investigate the alleged breach of patient information. The Minister has been quite clear abortion services should be viewed as a normalised part of the health service and women accessing that service should not be subjected to any intimidation or harassment,” she added.

It has been claimed that the woman received a phone call on Wednesday from a man who knew her name and address and a text giving directions to a purported health clinic in Dublin. The woman was said to have become suspicious and to have contacted the NMH and the Well Woman Centre which told her they knew nothing of the alleged appointment.

“We do not comment on individual cases. Patient confidentiality is of the utmost importance to us, and any suspected breach of confidentiality is always investigated as a matter of urgency in conjunction with other organisations who may have access to patient details,” the National Maternity Hospital said in a statement.

Alison Begas, chief executive of the Well Woman Centres, said when the story emerged on Thursday morning she ordered a full audit of the service’s IT system.

“Our patient management software is a locked system and we are absolutely certain following the audit that there was no breach.”