'This should not happen': Son's reaction to disclosure of mother's medical information to mystery caller by Northampton General Hospital

Northampton General Hospital
Northampton General Hospital
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A son said it was “scary” to find that details about his mother’s condition while in Northampton General Hospital were disclosed to a mystery caller posing as her husband who has been dead for four years.

Raymond Hughes, 64, from Daventry, phoned the hospital in the days after his mother was admitted on October 10.

After speaking with a hospital worker over the phone it emerged they told someone other than the listed next of kin about her treatment, tests being carried out on her, as well as her general condition.

“When I rang up and the nurse asked who I was, I told her I was the next of kin,” said Mr Hughes.

“And she said ‘no, her husband is the next of kin’. I said that wasn’t possible because he’s dead.”

Mr Hughes doesn’t have any idea who the mystery caller was. He has made enquiries to friends, family and his mother’s care agency to check whether they had rung the hospital, but none admitted doing so, nor did the only other person listed as the next of kin, Mr Hughes’ brother.

“I really don’t have a clue who it could’ve been,” said Mr Hughes.

“It’s scary. All they’ve done is claimed to be her husband. That sort of thing should not happen.”

It is plausible the staff member may have been talking about another patient altogether when they told Mr Hughes his father was listed as the next of kin.

Or the mystery caller may simply have been able to bypass hospital identity checks.

The NHS code of practice states staff should identify enquirers so that information is only shared with the right people.

It says “staff should check that any callers, by telephone or in person, are who they say they are”, and that official identification should be sought. Failing that staff can check the caller’s identity by calling them back by using an independent source for the phone number.

Northampton General Hospital cannot comment directly on the matter due to patient confidentiality and because no complaint has been lodged by Mr Hughes - though he will do so this week.

A spokeswoman said: “We would urge anyone who has queries or concerns about the treatment of their loved ones to raise those with us and give us the opportunity to look into them.”