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GP practice under investigation after refusing to comply with DSAR

A recent investigation in the Farnworth, UK, has revealed that a medical practice was not complying with data protection rules.

For a number of years Virginia Hewitt, who says she is on the autism spectrum, was a patient at Fig Tree Medical Practice, in Frederick Street.

Eventually the patient decided to went to a different doctor’s practice.

When she submitted a data subject access request (DSAR) for a copy of her case notes, Ms Hewitt says she was told that she would have to pay up to £50 to access the information.

She said: “I’m with a different doctors now but I asked the practice manager for my case notes under the Data Protection Act. They refused and said there was a charge of £50 to access the information. I complained to the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) and they told me that the practice had acted illegally by doing this.”

The authorities claimed that in fact the investigation has revealed that the practice had been failing with its data protection obligations.

An ICO spokesman has said: “We received a complaint about Fig Tree Medical Practice and their handling of a request for personal data – known as a SAR. We found that they hadn’t complied with their data protection obligations as they hadn’t responded to the request appropriately. We provided them with guidance about handling SARs and the case is now closed.”

Fig Tree Medical Practice said that Ms Hewitt’s request was completed last month and they are waiting for her to collect the data.

A spokesman said: “The patient complained to ICO in July. We have since liaised with the ICO and the patient’s request for copies of records was completed on August 14.

“The ICO were informed, who then informed the patient that they were ready for collection. The patient has still not collected them despite numerous phone calls from the ICO.

“This seems rather strange for somebody who was so eager to get copies of their records that she allegedly requested nearly a year ago.”

Ms Hewitt said that due to her disorder, reasonable adjustments are in place for communication, which she claims have not been met.

She added: “Due to my autism, I have correspondence over the phone, but they haven’t rung.”