A teenager, who was working as a Level 2 Healthcare Assistant at the NHS’ University Hospital Plymouth, has been compensated £2,500 for a GDPR breach which saw her mental health struggles revealed.
Jessica Mowbray, from Plymouth, has been working for the hospital since 2019. In September 2020, she was off sick as she was suffering with her mental health when her Line Manager exposed the reason she wasn’t in work.
The 19-year-old had already been put on medication for her anxiety and depression.
Her manager had detailed the reason she was off work on the rota which all Band 6 members of staff could see in her department.
Jessica complained to HR about the data breach who asked her to confront her Ward Manager herself. She said that she didn’t know how to use the system properly despite having been a member of staff for a long time.
Feeling as though the matter hadn’t been dealt with appropriately, Jessica sought legal advice from Liverpool-based High Street Solicitors in October 2020 who successfully secured £2,500 in compensation for Jessica.
Jessica explained: “Before the data breach, I was starting to get my life back on track with my medication. But after it my anxiety and mood worsened. I worried that I was being judged by the people I worked with due to my mental health and it made me feel so uncomfortable that they had details of my private life.”
Following the data breach, Jessica was admitted as an in-patient in hospital where she felt that she was “fighting for my life”. Her manager then turned up at the hospital to see her, and proceeded to visit her to discuss her work life.
Out of embarrassment and worry that her colleagues knew about her mental health battles, Jessica stopped going to work.
She continued: “I don’t put all of the blame on this data breach but I have been in and out of hospital with suicide attempts and the breach made it harder to get better. I put my trust in the hospital and they were aware of my difficulties but the way they’ve handled the situation has been wrong – it should’ve been approached with care and compassion.
“I’m really happy with the support I’ve received from High Street Solicitors who secured the compensation.”
Niamh Jones, Head of GDPR at High Street Solicitors, added: “Jessica’s case is incredibly distressing. Given she was suffering with her mental health, this should’ve remained private and confidential rather than being revealed to a team of colleagues. Jessica’s anxiety and depression was exacerbated by the breach and she subsequently stopped going to work – somewhere where she’d spent a year and a half. We’re delighted to have helped secure her compensation and urge anyone in a similar situation to seek legal advice.”