Healthcare news

Secret recording at Belfast City Hospital happened while trust was at centre of major data protection breach

How The Irish News revealed the Belvoir Park Hospital scandal eight years ago
Seanín Graham

SECRET recording of security guards in Belfast City Hospital was taking place at the same time the trust which ordered it was at the centre of one of the biggest ever NHS data protection breaches.

Belvoir Park Hospital was effectively abandoned by the Belfast trust when it closed the vast site in 2006 - with tens of thousands of patient files and old medical equipment discarded.

The former cancer hospital attracted a bizarre group of bloggers who revelled in dressing up as nurses and staging mock-ups of horror films in old operating theatres - and then placed patient x-rays on the internet for sale.

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A record £225,000 fine was imposed on the trust by the Information Commissioner - who said the case was at the "top level" of breaches.

It was assumed - wrongly - that the stockpile of discarded files related to deceased patients. The Data Protection Act only applies to the living.

However, a painstaking 15-month investigation found there were 100,000 abandoned files - the majority of which "belong to the living".

The scandal only emerged after a whistleblower contacted The Irish News in 2011 as the trust never informed the commissioner about the staggering security lapse.

Belvoir Park Hospital in south Belfast was closed in 2006

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