PERFORMANCE: A former GP receptionist has been fined by the Information Commissioner’s Office for obtaining medical information on her ex-husband’s new wife.

Marcia Phillips appeared at West Hampshire Magistrates last month.

She was fined £750, and ordered to pay a £15 victim surcharge and £400 prosecution costs.

Ms Phillips was found to have accessed the information on 15 separate occasions over a 16-month period while working as a receptionist at the Bath Lodge Practice in Southampton.

The breach became apparent after Phillips left her job and sent a text message to her ex-husband’s partner referring to highly sensitive medical information taken from her medical record.

Deputy commissioner and director of data protection David Smith, said: “Ms Phillips knew she was breaking the law, but continued to do so in order to cause harm to her ex-husband’s new wife. 

“The nature of her job meant that she will have been in no doubt as to the importance of patient confidentiality. Despite this she repeatedly accessed the victim’s file without a valid reason.”

Mr Smith added that the government should introduce of tougher penalties to enforce the Data Protection Act. “Without these unscrupulous individuals will continue to break the law,” he said.

“Action to replace the section 55 ‘fine only’ regime with an effective deterrent is long overdue.”