Buxton GP clinic faces complaint over possible loss of confidential records

A Buxton family has submitted a formal complaint regarding a troubled GP clinic after it appears confidential medical records were posted to the wrong address without explanation.

By Ed Dingwall
Tuesday, 19th April 2022, 2:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 19th April 2022, 2:16 pm

Last month the Advertiser reported on administrative delays at Elmwood Medical Centre, on Burlington Road, which had left an autistic student struggling to access finance and academic support for several months – and now another patient has come forward to suggest this is not an isolated incident.

James Johnston, 20, has lodged a complaint with the practice over a potential breach of privacy regulations, believing his confidential medical records were twice posted to an unknown address.

Mum Sally Johnston said: “A half-hour job has taken months, our MP had to get involved, and we have still had no apology or acknowledgement. It’s been so frustrating and unfair, James very nearly gave up on a military career.”

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Elmwood Medical Centre on Burlington Road.

In early 2021, Navy recruiters followed up James’s application with a standard request for his medical records.

Sally said: “It took about three months for Elmwood to provide them. In the end, the Navy withdrew the application, partly because things were taking so long.”

Following that disappointment, James took time to consider alternative careers and in December began applying to join the Army. Again he went back to the clinic for his records.

Sally said: “This time it took eight weeks of chasing and fighting. Eventually we asked our MP, Robert Largan, to get involved. James was at the end of his tether, he was about ready to give up again.

James Johnston and mum Sally.

“When we got the papers, we sent them off – only to be told Elmwood had forgotten a signed letter from a doctor confirming they were true records. We went back to the clinic, and they said they had already sent them off, but the Army never received them.”

The full details are still unclear, but it appears that two copies of James’ records were posted to an address in Coventry not associated with the Army.

Sally said: “The first were sent by normal post, and the second by recorded delivery, so there is a name and a photo of the person who received them – but the Army says they have no one of that name working there.

“Elmwood say the papers have been destroyed, but there’s been no explanation of how they know that.”

The family are pursuing the matter via Elmwood’s internal complaints process, but may still raise it with the Information Commissioner's Office.

A spokesperson for Elmwood Medical Centre said: “It is widely documented that the NHS as a whole is experiencing huge pressures and GP practices across the country are not alone.

“The team at Elmwood Medical Centre is striving to provide the best care possible for patients, and their commitment cannot be underestimated, so it is always disappointing to hear when patients are not satisfied with the care they have received. We will always undertake a thorough investigation of any complaints and liaise directly with those affected.

“Ensuring our patients have the best possible experience and are treated with dignity and respect is of utmost priority. Therefore, we encourage patients to utilise the different means of providing feedback and joining our patient participation group so that we can work together on key areas for continuous improvement and service development.”

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