A breach of confidence caused family rift

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A WIGAN woman plans to take legal action alleging breach of confidentiality by health chiefs.

The 65-year-old, who did not want to be named, has written a letter of complaint to Greater Manchester NHS Mental Health Trust claiming that a psychiatric nurse had informed her brother that she had reported him for taking employment when he should not had done.

The Aspull woman became concerned nine years ago when her 62-year-old brother, who has paranoid schizophrenia, had accepted a part time job as a coach driver, taking pensioners on day drips.

She thought that he no longer had his Public Service Vehicle licence (PSV) and informed his psychiatric nurse, who then, she claims, told her brother she had alerted him.

As a result, her brother had to give up the job.

But the claim has also caused a rift in the family, with him and their mother refusing to speak to her and the latter had also written her daughter out of her will.

The complainant said: “I am upset as mental health patients have a right to confidentiality, but what about members of the public?

“I had to intervene as when I found out he was driving pensioners, I was worried about their safety.

“I asked his psychiatric nurse if my brother still had his PSV licence as I assumed he had it taken off him.

“But instead of the nurse acting discreetly and checking his file, he told my mum and brother that I had reported him.

“This betrayal of confidence has caused a lot of distress - my mum and brother accused me of interfering and didn’t speak to me. Since my mum’s death last September, I have found out that she had altered her will and left everything to my brother, but he is incapable of looking after his finances.”

She added that she was concerned about her brother’s state of mind and behaviour, as he was often unkempt and talked to voices inside his head.

She had written her concerns in a letter, but staff at the Greater Manchester NHS Mental Health Trust wrote back stating that they deemed him to have sufficient capacity to maintain his affairs.

No formal complaint has yet been lodged, but the complainant is actively seeking legal advice and is awaiting for the Greater Manchester NHS Mental Health Trust to formulate another reply to her letter.

A spokesman for the Trust would not give an official statement, stating confidentiality rules but said that some matters were domestic, rather than relating to the health service.

A spokesman for the Department of Health, the government department responsible for public health issues, said: “We understand the trust is investigating this matter and therefore cannot comment further.”