Following a data breach at Well Pharmacy in December that affected thousands of pharmacists, the Pharmacists’ Defence Association has said it is progressing a compensation claim for affected members. Potential compensation ranges “from hundreds of pounds to the low thousands," the PDA says.
The leak, which occurred on December 11 2018, saw a spreadsheet containing information on 24,099 individuals, most of whom were pharmacists, sent out to 1,050 email addresses. The PDA says 376 of the recipients were “potentially” able to access the document.
The leaked document, which the PDA says may be relevant to pharmacists that have “ever worked for or provided locum services to Well or a predecessor company” since at least as far back as 2003, included information such as names, addresses, contact details and payroll numbers.
There is also data on locum hourly rates, the range of services pharmacists can provide, CRB clearance and religious requirements.
The PDA has expressed particular concern regarding data on “reasons for inactivation” for pharmacists, including being a ‘business risk’, health concerns, payment rates and over-claiming for payment, and being an ‘unreliable locum’.
Well denies having ever operated a blocklist and told the PDA it would never “consider such improper practice”.
Well Pharmacy has said it is "truly sorry" for the breach, which it attributes to human error, and has held a full investigation into how it happened. The company says it has introduced new operating procedures to prevent a similar breach from taking place in the future.
Upon learning of the breach, Well recalled the email, though the PDA says this “only works in limited circumstances” and that the 376 recipients could potentially have shared the spreadsheet with others.
Well then contacted the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and set about informing the individuals who were affected. However, there may be difficulties contacting those whose contact details in the spreadsheet are now out of fate.
Having obtained legal advice that affected pharmacists can make a claim, the PDA is inviting its members to notify it via an online survey that they wish to be included in “any collective action”. The PDA says it is offering this as a free service to members and “successful claimants will receive 100 per cent of any compensation due and not have to pay any legal fees”.
Depending on circumstances such as what data about an individual has been shared, affected PDA members “could potentially be entitled to compensation ranging from hundreds of pounds to the low thousands,” it has been advised.
Pharmacists who have joined the PDA or are in the process of joining when the claim is submitted are entitled to sign up to the group claim.
PDA director of defence services Mark Pitt said: “We are looking into this claim on behalf of our members and have informed them of what we now know about the breach, what we’re doing to help members and have informed them of what we now know about the breach, what we’re doing to help members and what action they can take.”