The information commissioner is to investigate a security breach that led to the personal details of hundreds of doctors were made available online.
Last week the Department of Health was forced to apologise after the doctors’ details – including home addresses, phone numbers, sexual orientation and previous convictions – were uploaded to the NHS’s online application system for specialist medical training posts. The information was available online for several hours.
Furious doctors' leaders said there was "no excuse" for the breach - particularly after security concerns about the Medical Training Application Service (MTAS) website had been raised with the DoH.
The Information Commissioner’s Office said it had contacted the DoH to establish the facts of this case. “We have asked the department to explain how and why this incident occurred,” a spokesperson said.
“We have also requested information on the safeguards the department now has in place to prevent a similar incident occurring in the future. In addition, we will expect to see the results of the department’s own internal inquiry.
The data watchdog's spokesperson added: “The ICO is very concerned that particularly sensitive information such as individuals’ sexual orientation and religious beliefs were made public through the website. We will provide a further update on this investigation in due course.”
The data breach is the latest of a series of problems to hit the troubled online service. Last month the government had to offer interviews to junior doctors who appeared to have been wrongly disqualified after the spiralled into chaos.
The online application system crashed under the pressure of thousands of junior doctors trying to submit applications simultaneously. British Medical Association representatives called for the scheme to be scrapped and the DoH was forced to call a snap review of the scheme.