Pharmacy chain apologises over leaked employee data

Manchester-based pharmacy chain Well Pharmacy Group has apologised to employees and locum staff after information about them was leaked.

The chain, which was formerly the Co-operative Pharmacy, accidentally included in an email details of more than 24,000 people employed by the company.

This informtion contained names, addresses, phone and payroll numbers and email addresses.

However, Well insisted that no patient information was leaked.

The chain operates 780 shopes and the leak occurred earlier this month when an email, containing a spreadsheet with the information, was sent to a number of locum pharmacists.

Bosses tried to recall the email, but Well has now apologised and launched an investigation.

In a message to staff Chris Ellett, a manager responsible for safeguarding Well’s data, assured them that details such as bank details, National Insurance numbers or dates of birth were leaked.

He said: “How we handle your personal data at Well is very important and I am truly sorry that this has happened.

“Any incident involving personal data is serious and I have launched a full investigation.

“Changes have already been made to prevent this happening again.

“The Information Commissioner’s Office has been informed and we will act immediately on any advice they provide.”

Professional trade union, the Pharmacists’ Defence Association, has advised members who received the email “not to open the attachment and to permanently delete the spreadsheet”.

The union also said that some pharmacists are concerned about what other data is included in the email.

“Members believe the information includes data about their religion, pay rates, fitness to practice information and criminal record checks.

“There are also concerns that the data held about them by Well Pharmacy amounts to a ‘blacklist’, as it includes a column entitled ‘reasons for inactivation’.

“Our members want to know what information has been recorded about them and how it was put in the public domain.”

In his email to Well staff, Mr Ellett denies this is the case.

“The document also contains additional information to assist us in successfully placing individuals where appropriate.

“It does not contain any information relating to personal characteristics.

“We have been made aware that a number of locums believe this is a list of ‘banned’ individuals.

“We want to reassure you that this is not true.”