South East Wales

Facebook hospital insult and photo: Aneurin Bevan health chiefs act

Facebook on mobile phone
Image caption The health board said mobile phones should not be used to take photos in hospital without consent

Health chiefs have acted after complaints that insulting messages and photos of an elderly woman in hospital were posted on Facebook.

The incident involved a patient at Nevill Hall Hospital in Abergavenny.

Aneurin Bevan Health Board has reminded staff of its policy that photos of staff, visitors and patients are only allowed with proper consent.

Officials have also put up posters and are considering other measures to protect patient privacy.

Welsh assembly member Lindsay Whittle, who received a complaint, said taking pictures on mobiles was unacceptable.

In September, the hospital confirmed it was looking into the Facebook posting of photos taken on a ward.

The family of the woman involved, who is in her 70s, saw the page and complained to the hospital.

The photograph on Facebook reportedly showed two white-haired patients in opposite beds, with the caption: "She's the one on the left!!!".

The woman's relatives said she was upset that photos were taken without her knowledge, and that the comments published alongside them on Facebook were "insulting."

Facebook was contacted and the picture and post were removed.

Following an investigation, the health board confirmed it had "further developed its existing policy on photographing or the filming of patients, visitors or staff on health board premises."

'Privacy and dignity'

"The health board recognises its duty of care to ensure that the privacy and dignity of patients and staff are protected at all times," said a spokesperson.

"Awareness has also been raised across the health board and staff have been reminded that the photographing or the filming of patients, visitors or staff is only allowed in circumstances where proper informed consent has been obtained from the patients, visitors or staff concerned."

Mr Whittle, Plaid Cymru AM for South Wales East, said: "I'm very pleased at the prompt action taken by the health board after what was a very serious breach of patient confidentiality.

"They have reinforced the message that taking pictures from mobile phones is totally unacceptable, have raised awareness through new posters and are also looking at other measures.

"That is to be welcomed and I hope we never have another incident of this kind."

The AM also complained to Wales' older people's commissioner Sarah Rochira who criticised the post as an invasion of privacy.

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