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Health

Bounty sold mums’ and babies’ data

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THE INFORMATION Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined Bounty (UK) Limited £400,000 for illegally sharing personal information belonging to more than 14 million people.

An ICO investigation found that Bounty, a pregnancy and parenting club, collected personal information for the purpose of membership registration through its website and mobile app, merchandise pack claim cards and directly from new mothers at hospital bedsides.

But the company also operated as a data broking service until April 30, 2018, supplying data to third parties for the purpose of electronic direct marketing.

Bounty breached the Data Protection Act 1998 by sharing personal information with a number of organisations without being fully clear with people that it might do so.

The company shared approximately 34.4 million records between June 2017 and April 2018 with credit reference and marketing agencies, including Acxiom, Equifax, Indicia and Sky.

These organisations represented the four largest recipients out of a total of 39 organisations which Bounty confirmed it shared personal data with.

The personal information shared was not only of potentially vulnerable, new mothers or mothers-to-be but also of very young children, including the birth date and sex of a child.

Steve Eckersley, ICO’s Director of Investigations, said: “The number of personal records and people affected in this case is unprecedented in the history of the ICO’s investigations into data broking industry and organisations linked to this.

“Bounty was not open or transparent to the millions of people that their personal data may be passed on to such large number of organisations. Any consent given by these people was clearly not informed. Bounty’s actions appear to have been motivated by financial gain, given that data sharing was an integral part of their business model at the time.

“Such careless data sharing is likely to have caused distress to many people, since they did not know that their personal information was being shared multiple times with so many organisations, including information about their pregnancy status and their children”

The investigation found that for online registrations, Bounty’s privacy notices had a reasonably clear description of the organisations they might share information with, but none of the four largest recipients was listed.

Additionally, none of the merchandise pack claim cards and offline registration methods had an opt-in for marketing purposes.

Jim Kelleher, Managing Director of Bounty said: “We acknowledge the ICO’s findings – in the past, we did not take a broad enough view of our responsibilities and as a result, our data-sharing processes, specifically with regards to transparency, were not robust enough. This was not of the standard expected of us. However, the ICO has recognised that these are historical issues.

“Our priority is to continue to provide a valuable service for new parents that is both helpful and trusted. As the ICO has highlighted, we made significant changes to our processes in Spring 2018, reducing the number of personal records we retain and for how long we keep them, ending relationships with the small number of data brokerage companies with whom we previously worked and implementing robust GDPR training for our staff.

“Our ‘Bounty Promise’ sets out our continued commitment to carefully look after our members’ personal information. And to ensure our promise is never broken, we will appoint an independent data expert to check how we are doing every year and we will publish their findings annually on the Bounty website.”

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Health

Third day for hospital operation cancellations for ‘patient safety’

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HYWEL DDA University Health Board has confirmed that, in the interest of patient safety, planned inpatient operations scheduled for today (Wednesday 8 January 2020) have been postponed at Bronglais, Glangwili, Prince Philip and Withybush hospitals. Emergency surgery, day case procedures and outpatient appointments are continuing as normal.
These actions are in line with our escalation procedures to help manage patient flow and maintain patient safety during periods of peak pressure.
We have contacted patients affected directly so please attend as planned if you do not hear from us. Otherwise, please do not contact our appointments or outpatient teams unless absolutely necessary as they are very busy at this time.
Whilst the situation remains challenging, we are currently assessing our operating plans for the days ahead and, as per normal planning arrangements, these will be reviewed on a daily basis.
We will issue an updated statement when a large proportion of planned operations resume.
We apologise for an inconvenience this may cause patients who have had their operations postponed or who have had to wait longer than normal for their procedure.

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Health

Operations at all west Wales hospitals, including Withybush cancelled again today

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THE HEALTH BOARD has confirmed that, in the interest of patient safety, routine planned operations remain cancelled today (Tuesday 7 January 2020) at Bronglais, Glangwili, Prince Philip and Withybush hospitals.

Operations were also cancelled yesterday for the same reason.

The exception to this is emergency surgery and urgent cases wherever possible, as well as most day surgery, with the exception of Bronglais Hospital. All outpatient appointments are continuing as normal.

A spokesman said: “We are contacting patients affected directly so please attend as planned if you do not hear from us. Otherwise, please do not contact our appointments or outpatient teams unless absolutely necessary as they are very busy at this time.

“This situation remains challenging with the Health Board operating in line with our escalation procedures to help manage patient flow and maintain patient safety. This includes commissioning additional areas to accommodate patients who require overnight care and support from senior clinicians, managers and other staff not initially rostered to work over the weekend to support the review and care of patients.

“In collaboration with our Local Authority partners, we continue to implement our broader winter plan which is designed to help reduce demand for hospital admission and prioritise patients for care within their home environment over the wider winter period. Over the next few weeks, a number of staff taking on new and different roles will be coming into post to support patients to receive the most appropriate care for their needs in the most appropriate setting. These are resourced through the winter planning monies supported by Welsh Government, in addition to the money we invested ourselves as a Health Board.”

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Health

Withybush General Hospital cancels all operations citing patient safety

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WITHYBUSH HOSPITAL has taken the unusual step of cancelling all inpatient operations in the interest of patient safety.
Hywel Dda University Health Board said they have decided to cancel inpatient operation at Bronglais, Prince Philip, Glangwili and Withybush today (Jan 6).
The health board has asked people do not attend an emergency department or GP practice if you have symptoms of infectious illness such as diarrhoea, vomiting, fever or symptoms of flu. Flu and norovirus are circulating and for the majority of people, these can be treated safely at home.
However, the vulnerable – very young, frail elderly, living with long term or chronic conditions – or those with symptoms worsening should seek medical advice.
In a statement issued by the Health Board to The Pembrokeshire Herald, a spokesperson said: “It has been an extraordinary weekend for our health service, with critical pressures being felt across all of our hospital A&E departments, GPs and our community services.
“In the interest of patient safety, Hywel Dda University Health Board has made the decision to cancel inpatient operations at Bronglais, Glangwili, Prince Philip and Withybush hospitals today.
“We are contacting patients affected directly so please attend as planned if you do not hear from us. Otherwise, please do not contact our appointments or outpatient teams unless absolutely necessary as they are very busy at this time.
“If you are unwell, please be aware that you may experience long waits for a GP appointment and at our A&E or MIU units at this time, for which we wholeheartedly apologise. If there are other services you can use, such as community pharmacies, please do so.”
Dr Philip Kloer, Medical Director at Hywel Dda UHB, said: “First I’d like to thank all my NHS colleagues across our hospitals, primary care and in the community for their commitment to our patients at this highly pressurised time.
“This weekend saw our hospitals at a level of escalation not seen before and it is in the interest of patient safety that we have postponed planned operations today. I understand this may be frustrating for those who have waited for their operation and I apologise for this.
“In response to the pressures being experienced today, we are redeploying staff to areas where additional support is needed, including contacting staff currently on leave. We are also working with our colleagues in the local authority and the families of those well enough to be discharged to ensure our medically well can go home or to an appropriate care setting as soon as possible.”

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