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Pharmacy2U scandal prompts BMA call for tougher deterrents

The BMA says financial penalties such as the £130,000 fine imposed on Pharmacy2U "do not offer enough of a deterrent"

The government should consider custodial sentences as a way to stop businesses following in the footsteps of Pharmacy2U, says the British Medical Association

A GP representative has called for prison sentences for businesses that "abuse" personal data, following the Pharmacy2U data-selling scandal.

The GP arm of the British Medical Association (BMA) said it welcomed a government watchdog investigation into the online pharmacy business, which led to the company being fined £130,000 last week (October 20) for selling 21,500 patient names and addresses to marketing companies in 2014.

But the BMA feels that the “current financial penalties do not offer enough of a deterrent”, Paul Bundy, chair of the organisation’s GP IT committee, said the following day.

“We are pushing for custodial penalties for those who wilfully or recklessly abuse personal data,” Dr Bundy said.

The BMA stressed that it is not responsible for "making this happen” because it is not a regulatory body. But it has "made it clear" to the Information Commissioner's Office [ICO] and the government that "tougher penalties should be considered", it told C+D yesterday (October 26).

Last week, Pharmacy2U managing director Daniel Lee “sincerely apologised” for the “regrettable incident”, which saw patient data sold to an Australian lottery company that the ICO said “deliberately targeted elderly and vulnerable individuals”.

The General Pharmaceutical Council reaffirmed to C+D yesterday (October 26) that it will “study” the ICO’s findings to decide if it should take further action against Pharmacy2U.
 


Are tougher deterrents needed to prevent misuse of patient data?

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9 Comments

Justin Gilbody, Community pharmacist

My community was targeted by pharmacy2u 10 years ago. It caused considerable confusion especially for the elderly and vulnerable. I contacted Daniel lee to express my concerns. Pharmacy2u appear to be more concerned with profits than patient well-being. Karma I'd say. *This comment has been edited for breaching C+D's community principles.

An affordable fine, I think, that will do little to deter. The likeliest, most effective deterrent is for pharmacies to share information like this with their patients.

Kamal Shah, Superintendent Pharmacist

The whole industry stinks. Nothing is ever going to come out in the open as no journalist will take up reporting the way the NHS is being ripped off by almost everybody. The MPs and GPs must have big clout to stifle any report that would kill off the golden goose. What a mess.

Hayley Johnson, Community pharmacist

The one group that I'm not hearing from in all of this hoohah is pharmacy2U's customer base. anyone know that the reaction has been like from patients?

Chris Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Not only did P2U mislead many patients into signing up to their Rx delivery business (allegedly) they then proceeded to sell their confidential details for money...nice one P2U...GPs need to keep quiet, I recall certain local doctors being rather keen on supporting P2Us rapid expansion, cant imagin£ why they were $o keen to $upport th£m? Perhaps that could also be looked into by the BMA? Thought not.

Jacques Gholam, Community pharmacist

The first time I'd heard of Pharmacy2U was when a loyal patient showed me a letter from her (or his) surgery "advising" of the online service and its remarkable advantages but the wqorrying thing was that although the letter listed all the GPs' of that particular surgery, the letter was emblazoned with Pharmacy2U across the top, the sides and the bottom of the page. We, as independents , are bludgeoned every year with information governance compliance and even though I have given the same answers to the same questions year on year , somehow my score decreases each time. Then we get this. Pharmacy2u has to be closed down by the GPhC FORTHWITH as a discouragement to anyone else. This can easily be done by refusing to renew the premises registration. At the moment a body corporate protects the individuals concerned but the GPhC must for once have the "cojones" to take punitive action. Nothing less will do.

Pupinder Ghatora, Pharmacy owner/ Proprietor

Pharmacy2u is owned partly by EMIS, is that right? EMIS is also owned by GPs? I don't know, I am just seeking clarification, but I am pretty sure Pharmcy2u have been trying to pilfer patients as well, by sending a non-NHS, branded NHS letter out to patients!! This is what happens when sectors become greedy!!!!!

Avnish Shah, Superintendent Pharmacist

connection between Emis and Pharmacy 2 u see http://www.pharmacy2u.co.uk/images/pdf/thetimesandyhornby.pdf

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

That'll be nice. The multiples will simply offer up individual pharmacists as sacrificial lambs, luvverly jubbly. Problem solved everybody's happy. GPhC can sleep soundly and Boots or whoever can grab the next cheap pair of hands off the pharmacy school carousel.

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