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For a year or so, my wife and I lived in a shared household with largely random people in the UK. We did not get on well with one individual, and after a year we chose to move out into our own place. Whilst we were living in shared accommodation, my wife required a medical procedure on the NHS, but because the waiting time was so long, we did not hear back from them before moving out.

After moving out and not hearing anything from the NHS after ~6 months, my wife contacted the hospital that was supposed to schedule the appointment to find out when the procedure would be scheduled. The person at the hospital told her that an appointment had been scheduled for several months ago, and a letter was sent to our old property. She then went on to explain that someone had rung up to cancel the appointment. My wife informed them that she hadn't, and the person from the hospital provided the telephone number of the person who called. Needless to say the number was for our old housemate with which we had a number of disagreements.

As one final note, the ex-housemate, whose number matches that which called up to cancel my wife's appointment, is a full-time nurse employed in the NHS.

  1. Has any crime been committed, and if so, is there any point in pursuing this with the police? If so, how do I go about it?
  2. Even if a crime has not been committed, I would think that at the very least, opening someone's mail and then impersonating them and cancelling the surgery would at least be viewed as unprofessional, especially for someone employed in the NHS. Is there a procedure for making a complaint against an NHS worker?
  • In the UK, when you call a healthcare provider, are you usually asked to confirm your identify via birth date, NI number, etc.? If so, then it's a little clearer that the ex-housemate had to open the letter and/or otherwise had access to and made use of private information. – mkennedy Sep 26 '17 at 22:27
  • In terms of civil liability an important issue would be if there was any obligation on your part to notify the NHS or the post of your change of address. Also, of course, even if I crime were committed and it was prosecuted, this would not make you any better off. – ohwilleke Sep 27 '17 at 12:05
  • Have you suffered any loss due to the cancellation? Financial, having to wait longer for treatment and suffering in the mean time, that sort of thing? – user Sep 28 '17 at 9:21
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I'm not a lawyer, but I am an NHS employee, and can more concretely answer your questions.

Has any crime been committed, and if so, is there any point in pursuing this with the police? If so, how do I go about it?

Yes, in-fact, several crimes have been committed.

Firstly, NHS employees are prohibited from viewing patient's personal information that they are not specifically treating. In opening your letter from the NHS, the nurse in question violated this practice. It's a breach of both privacy and trust. This is taught at the NHS and the nurse would be aware of this.

Secondly, by cancelling your appointment, the nurse has committed workplace fraud. They have impersonated a patient, and in doing so, cost the NHS money and time it won't get back by cancelling your appointment. Again, this is also taught within the NHS, and the nurse would be aware of this too.

Thirdly, by cancelling your appointment, the nurse may have put a life in danger in doing so, which is effectively gross negligence at a minimum.

Although this can be reported to the police, it'll be more effective to report it to the appropriate NHS bodies.

Even if a crime has not been committed, I would think that at the very least, opening someone's mail and then impersonating them and cancelling the surgery would at least be viewed as unprofessional, especially for someone employed in the NHS. Is there a procedure for making a complaint against an NHS worker?

There are several different approaches, given the various breaches of trust.

As BlueDogRanch mentioned, you can file a compliant to NHS England, which includes via email. Be sure to get appropriate information like the nurse's name, address, and if possible any details (like appointment reference numbers) to aid the investigation.

Secondly, because of the cost incurred via the malicious cancellation of an appointment, costing time and money (and running the risk of opening the NHS to litigation), you can also report the fraudulent aspects to the NHS Counter Fraud Authority.

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I'm obviously not a lawyer, nor a UK national, but I'm thinking your options are to start with several documents and sites that guide people who wish to make complaints against the NHS.

In reading the links posted below, there appear to be time limits (one year) from the time of the incident; and you'll need to make it clear early on that your complaint is about an individual who works for the NHS and not the care received, and that may change the process or impact the time limits.

The other aspect of this situation is the fact that the NHS employee appears to have had to impersonate you and/or use personal information to cancel that appointment for the procedure. I'll leave it to someone else with more experience in UK laws on privacy and health information to post those laws and their possible impacts.

Overall, it appears to be a complex situation that may involve both the NHS and your local authorities.

For what it's worth, take a look at

How do I make a complaint about an NHS service? - Health questions - NHS Choices

and

NHS hospital complaints - Citizens Advice.

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There would also (in addition to Health Service concerns) appear to be a crime under the Postal Services Act 2000:

84 Interfering with the mail: general.

  1. A person commits an offence if, intending to act to a person’s detriment and without reasonable excuse, he opens a postal packet which he knows or reasonably suspects has been incorrectly delivered to him.
  1. A person who commits an offence under subsection (1) or (3) shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to both.

There might be a defence that the recipient thought the letter was for them, and then contacted the hospital to cancel an appointment they themselves did not need; they didn't intend to act to your wife's detriment.

However, the verification checks performed by the hospital should have prevented the cancellation — and the "Private & Confidential: Addressee only. Do not forward" and NHS logos on the envelope might have prompted extra vigilance in checking who the letter was addressed to. What the recipient should have done, given the instruction not to forward the letter, is returned it to the address on the back.

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