Council apologises for data protection breach after personal mental health report sent to man in Oldham

View of Bucks County Council tower
View of Bucks County Council tower

A council has apologised after it sent confidential information regarding a client’s 
mental health to a man living in Lancashire.

Bucks County Council was forced to send a courier 211 miles to Oldham to pick up the wrongly addressed letter at a cost of around £200.

The information contained sensitive detail’s about a man’s mental state.

Its recipient, Stuart Potter, was actually awaiting a letter from Bucks County Council regarding his mother Joyce Potter, 84, who lives in Stokenchurch.

He says he feared that his mother’s letter had also been mixed up and sent to someone else.

Mr Potter said: “To make matters worse I tried to speak to the person who wrote the letter and they never got back to me.

“It was only when I got in touch with the legal department that they did anything about it, and I still haven’t had my mum’s report through.”

Mr Potter, who was served with a legal notice stating he must not divulge the contents of the leaked report, added: “Throughout this whole situation they have not addressed my concerns at all, they have sent this courier at great expense and could have sent my report with him too – I’m still waiting.”

A spokesman for Bucks County Council said: “A letter intended for one recipient was correctly named, but erroneously sent to a different address.

“We have reviewed all our processes and regret this was human error.

“We have been in touch with both parties to apologise.”

The council confirmed that it did use a local courier service to retrieve the letter, but said that as they have a contract with the firm the fee would have been subject to discount.

Councils can be fined for data breaches under the Data Protection Act, and were required by law to deal with the incident swiftly.