Police ‘asked to look at’ allegations staff accessed Kate’s notes, minister says

An investigation has reportedly been launched at The London Clinic over claims staff tried to access the Princess of Wales’s private medical records.

Pol Allingham
Wednesday 20 March 2024 10:18 GMT
The Princess of Wales had surgery in January (Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA)
The Princess of Wales had surgery in January (Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA) (PA Wire)

Police have “been asked to look at” whether staff at The London Clinic attempted to access the Princess of Wales’s private medical records, a health minister has said.

Maria Caulfield said there could be “hefty implications” for accessing the notes without permission, including prosecution or fines.

She told LBC her understanding was that police had been contacted, although a Metropolitan Police spokesman said he was not aware of any referral to the force.

According to The Mirror, an investigation has been launched at the private central London hospital after at least one member of staff tried to access Kate’s notes while she was a patient there in January.

My understanding is that police have been asked to look at it - whether they take action is a matter for them

Health minister Maria Caulfield

Speaking on LBC radio on Wednesday, Ms Caulfield said: “I say this as someone who’s still on the nursing register, that the rules are very, very clear for all patients.

“That unless you’re looking after that patient, or unless they’ve given you their consent, you should not be looking at patients’ notes.

“So there are rules in place and the Information Commissioner can levy fines, that can be prosecutions, your regulator, so as a nurse my regulator would be the NMC (Nursing and Midwifery Council), can take enforcement action.”

Asked if the police should look into the matter, she said: “My understanding is that police have been asked to look at it – whether they take action is a matter for them.

“But the Information Commissioner can also take prosecutions, can also issue fines, the NMC, other health regulators can strike you off the register if the breach is serious enough.

“So there are particularly hefty implications if you are looking at notes for medical records that you should not be looking at.”

The princess was admitted to the hospital for abdominal surgery on January 16.

Details of Kate’s condition have not been disclosed but Kensington Palace previously said it was not cancer-related and that the princess wished for her personal medical information to remain private.

Earlier on Wednesday, Ms Caulfield told Sky News that it is “pretty serious stuff to be accessing notes that you don’t have permission to”.

She said: “Just to reassure your viewers, these rules apply to all patients, so there are very strict rules about which patient notes you can access.

“You’re only allowed to access the patient notes you’re caring for, and with their permission, and there’s really strict rules.

“The Information Commissioner would take enforcement action against trusts or primary care practices, but also, as individual practitioners, your regulatory body… would take action as well.

“So it’s pretty severe, and it’s pretty serious stuff to be accessing notes that you don’t have permission to.”

The minister said it would be “very disappointing” if the notes had been accessed.

She added: “From a health perspective, it’s not acceptable to be looking at people’s notes, but it has been spotted and action has been taken so people can be reassured that if it does happen – particularly with electronic notes these days, it’s spotted pretty quickly if someone’s accessing notes that they shouldn’t be.”

The UK privacy and data protection watchdog said it had received a breach report.

An Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) spokesperson said on Tuesday: “We can confirm that we have received a breach report and are assessing the information provided.”

This is a matter for The London Clinic

Kensington Palace

In a statement to The Mirror, The London Clinic said: “We firmly believe that all our patients, no matter their status, deserve total privacy and confidentiality regarding their medical information.”

Kensington Palace said: “This is a matter for The London Clinic.”

Kate’s absence from public life, after her surgery, has led to wild conspiracy theories on social media about her whereabouts and health.

Footage emerged of the princess out shopping with the Prince of Wales at the weekend at the Windsor Farm Shop close to their Adelaide Cottage home in the grounds of Windsor Castle.

The royal couple also spent Sunday morning watching Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis taking part in a sporting event, according to The Sun.

The online speculation increased after irregularities were spotted in a Mother’s Day photograph of Kate and her children, which led to the princess admitting to “editing” the image and apologising for any “confusion” caused.

It was reported at the weekend that the princess may speak about her health during public engagements which are not expected to resume until after Easter.

The London Clinic has been contacted for comment.

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