Data Danger


On referral to SHE for supported  housing, one of the questions on the initial assessment is the name & address of a woman’s GP.  As the majority of SHE women are from Burnley, they usually have a registered GP. However, should a woman not have a GP, we help them to register at a GP next door to the SHE office. We advise a GP as soon as possible so that any medication can be prescribed & clinical support is in place along with the support we offer the SHE community.

One of our women was referred to us by the Revolution team from Lancashire Police. She is 53 years old, served eight months on remand resulting in the charge against her being withdrawn. She was homeless, poorly & was sofa surfing. SHE team worked with her to settle her into her home and all was well.

Bessie (name changed and I like the name Bessie) settled well. She went for her general checkup with the practice nurse prior to seeing the GP. All good thus far. A few days later, Bessie shows me a letter from East Lancashire NHS telling her she is prohibited from registering at a GP surgery of her choice due to her being on the Zero Tolerance register. As Bessie does not have a mobile phone, she walks to my office when she needs to use the phone and as is often the case, SHE members ask us to speak on their behalf. One of SHE team made the call for Bessie and she was asked how she had got the number of this *special* doctor’s surgery. Much explanation later, we managed to procure a GP appointment for Bessie.

Bessie is not very trusting of authority. As SHE is not an authority, Bessie has grown to trust us. We are on her side. Bessie requested that someone of her own choosing attend the GP appointment with her as a chaperone. This is her right just as it is any other citizen. This surgery is at night.  In a locked building with security guards. Male security guards one of whom was present in the GP consultation. Yes, a male security guard was in as Bessie explained to the GP her health concerns. You read it correctly,  a male security guard. This was enough to prompt one of the most strident letters I have possibly ever written to any person in the whole of my adult life.

As a result of my letter, I received a phone call from East Lancashire Primary Health Trust. Together we managed to sort through the fat and she put me in touch with our area lead on ZT. Again, totally professional, EL’s lead has started an investigation into why Bessie was placed on the ZT scheme. We know why. She has explained to us why. We believe her.

Various appointments later (male security stands outside the room now and as we have requested Bessie not have a male security guard in on her consult, Bessie is not allowed her chaperone in with her) chasing up her prescriptions, taking her for her mammogram, (no security for this, apparently radiology staff are not as important as a GP, just saying like) a rottweiler of a *special* surgery receptionist, Bessie is slowly getting somewhere with her various health conditions. Three months later, after each appointment the cat & mouse game begins.  The chase of the correct prescription. It’s a shed load of fun and pisses me off no end. The pharmacist next door makes no secret of his disdain either and my colleague made just the ten phone calls to the rottweiler to get the correct prescription.

The above is the dull part of the saga. Astoundingly, this special place sent a three-page missive on Bessie’s health conditions. In this three-page missive, were three incidents detailing dates of incidents apparently carried out by Bessie. The earliest date was 1986, two incidents that were *cause for concern* 1993, another cause for concern resulting in her being deregistered from mainstream GP surgery lists. These incidents on paper make Bessie look worse than some gun-toting hardened criminal in a Quenton Tarantino movie. Incidents that would have seen her locked up to this day. Incidents that the police were never called to, Bessie was never charged with let alone convicted of.

The moral of this story. Data holding by agencies. We are hoping this data will be removed and it is some huge error, possibly a name mix up. But even more concerning, is that data sharing is known and who this data is shared with. On behalf of Bessie, who is never a threat, never aggressive to anybody in our building and is happily settled in her new home, we will get to the bottom of why this data is on her file. She wants to know & we will fight her corner in this matter. We will also work our hardest to get her removed from the ZT scheme so she is not deprived of primary health care as any other citizen in this country. She has a right to health care just as NHS staff have a right to work in a safe environment.

The madness of a system. It’s not just the CJS in chaos, the NHS seemingly are too.

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