County Council in new secret file blunders

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Social services bosses have moved to allay fears about confidential information being delivered to the wrong people after Chad uncovered two more shocking cases of private documents being given to the wrong families.

Last month Chad reported how a family received a confidential report detailing a different family’s dealings with Nottinghamshire County Council’s social services, including personal information and descriptions of episodes of domestic violence and drug taking.

Since then, more people who have experienced a similar issue have come forward to reveal their experiences and question how safe their confidential details are with the county council.

One man from the Ashfield area, who asked not to be named and has contact with social services to arrange care for his son, said that last year he received documents about a suspected child abuse case hand-delivered with forms meant for him.

“Attached to the back was all this other stuff to do with a baby,” he said.

“There were names, addresses, phone numbers and the details of why the baby was in care.”

He informed social services and gave them the report back, before making a complaint that the breach of confidence had happened.

“We accepted social services’ word for it that it was a one-off mistake that would never happen again,” he said.

“I was fairly shocked that it has happened again and there was someone else going through it.”

The man said that if procedures had been put in place, as he was told they would be, such a mistake should not have happened again, and somebody should have been disciplined for making such a serious error.

“If we have got these documents, someone else could get ours. It’s a big worry,” he added.

A woman from Mansfield, who also did not want to be named, told Chad that she had received a phone call from a man who had been posted a report about her husband, who was assessed by social services following a stroke.

As a result of reading the document, which had been posted to him in error, he knew their names, address and all of the details about her husband’s subsequent disability.

She complained to the county council and received a letter apologising for the mistake, but the upset and stress of the situation was great, and she believes it caused her husband to have another stroke, just a few days after.

“He was very worried about what could happen if somebody else had read the reports and thought someone would break in, knowing he was in a wheelchair,” she said.

“He lost all his confidence and independence after this second stroke.”

The lady asked for a face to face apology but was never given one, and was told that it was just a mistake that would be investigated independently.

She said she has ‘no idea’ if changes were made to procedures, but fears others have also been affected as she was asked if she had received anybody else’s documents.

“I think they should have come here and told us they were sorry.

“They should make sure all the paperwork they have got goes to the correct people and let people with more responsiblity be in charge of sending out the paperwork,” she said.

“It’s ruined my life for the last year, it really has, and my husband’s.

“He has hardly been out of this house for a year and we used to go here, there and everywhere.”

A spokesperson for Nottinghamshire County Council said: “Nottinghamshire County Council takes its responsibilities for data protection extremely seriously.

“The cases highlighted by Chad relate to two separate departments within the county council and are completely unrelated. In both instances we have acknowledged that mistakes were made during administrative processes and apologised for any distress this may have caused to the service users involved.

“The council works hard to minimise the chances of information being given out inappropriately. Employees are regularly reminded about the importance of data protection and our procedures are reviewed regularly. However, it is almost impossible to completely mitigate against occasional human error.

“The county council deals with tens of thousands of service users every year and is required to collect a large amount of personal, sensitive information so that we can deliver the best possible service to some of the most vulnerable people in Nottinghamshire. The council will continue to investigate any breaches to help identify whether any further improvements to its systems and procedures can be made in future.”