My Data Privacy Was Breached By Virgin Healthcare; Could I Claim Compensation?
In this guide, we look at what could happen after a potential data breach by Virgin Healthcare.
Healthcare providers often require our personal data in order to function, whether as an employer or a provider of patient services. Despite a healthcare provider’s best efforts, it may still suffer a data breach. However, if it’s positive wrongful conduct led to a data breach in which your information was accessed and this caused you to suffer financially or mentally, you could claim. That’s where this guide aims to help.
Every claim is based on unique circumstances. This means we might not be able to answer every question you have in a single guide. However, our advisors are available on 0161 696 9685 or through our live chat.
They can answer any additional questions that you have. They can also explain to you how a No Win No Fee claim works, and how we may be able to connect you with our panel of solicitors.
Our advisors are available 24/7 and give free legal advice. Additionally, you’ll be under no obligation to proceed with the services of our panel of solicitors. So why not reach out?
Select A Section:
- A Guide On Claims For A Data Breach By Virgin Healthcare
- What Is A Data Breach Claim Against Virgin Healthcare?
- The GDPR And Third Party Data Sharing Of Medical Data By Healthcare Providers
- ICO Fines And Enforcement Against Private Healthcare Providers
- Calculating Compensation For A Data Breach By Virgin Healthcare
- Types Of Compensation Awarded To Victims Of Data Breaches
- Reporting A Private Healthcare Company To The Information Commissioner
- No Win No Fee Claims For A Data Breach By Virgin Healthcare
- Dealing With Data Breaches In The Healthcare Industry
- What Should You Do If Affected By A Healthcare Data Breach?
- Talk To Us About A Healthcare Data Breach
- Frequently Asked Questions About Healthcare Data Breaches
- Where To Learn More
A Guide On Claims For A Data Breach By Virgin Healthcare
In this guide, we will take a look at the consequences of a data breach in healthcare and how, in some circumstances, you may be in a position to claim. The guide begins by laying background information that explains what a data breach is.
We also go over how data breaches happen, the effect that a data breach can have on your life, and how recovering from a data breach can be a difficult experience. You will learn about the responsibilities of the Information Commissioners’ Office (ICO) in enforcing the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the UK.
The last part of this guide covers information about the process of making a claim. We have added an example compensation table, and support this table with an explanation of the reasons why you could be able to claim damages.
You will learn about making a complaint to the ICO, and how your ability to claim is not dependant on this.
No Win No Fee claims are covered in more detail, including how they work, and the benefits they offer.
You will find some details about how a solicitor could help with your claim, as well as a list of some of the things you can do to prepare for your claim. We close this guide with a short FAQ section and some links to relevant information.
Time Limits For A GDPR Claim
There is a time limit for making a data breach claim. Typically, the time limit would be:
- If your human rights are involved, 1 year.
- In general, 6 years.
You can check with our claims team to find out which could apply based on your own situation.
Do You Need More Help?
Do you need more advice about using a data breach solicitor to help your claim? Or perhaps you need clarification on some of the contents of this guide? Our advisors can help with free legal advice. At the bottom of this page is a contact telephone number. Use it to speak to one of our expert advisors.
What Is A Data Breach Claim Against Virgin Healthcare?
In this section, we will look at what a claim for a personal data breach is. First, we need to explain how every organisation in the UK, including private healthcare providers, should comply with all relevant data privacy laws if they collect or process personal information.
Personal information or data is anything that could help identify you. It can be used alone to do this or in combination with other personal data.
The GDPR is an EU law that was enacted into UK law through the Data Protection Act 2018. The Data Protection Act sits alongside the UK GDPR. Together, they aim to protect the personal information of data subjects.
Data subjects are people whose personal information is collected or processed. Data controllers decide how and why personal information is collected and processed. For example, a healthcare provider could be a data controller. As a patient, you might be a data subject.
When a healthcare provider fails to comply with applicable data privacy and safety regulations, it could imperil your data to the risk of exposure. And when this risk becomes an actual data breach that exposes your personal information, you could suffer financial loss or psychological damage. If that happens, and you have evidence, you could make a compensation claim for your suffering.
Just What Is A Data Breach?
A personal data breach occurs after a security breach. This results in personal information being lost, disclosed, accessed, destroyed or altered without a lawful basis. Data breaches can be accidental or deliberate.
If the data breach is deliberate, it may be due to cybercriminals or hackers. In some cases, this third party could use your data to carry out nefarious activities resulting in significant financial loss and mental harm.
Data Breaches Due To A Mistake
However, if the data breach is accidental, it could still result in financial loss or psychological damage. For example, if an employee accidentally leaves your unencrypted records, including banking information, in an unsecured location, it could be accessed by an unauthorised person. This person could use the information to steal from you.
Accidents could happen due to staff not being trained in their data protection responsibilities, or just because of a general error. For example:
- Accidently publishing your medical records and private data online.
- Failing to properly dispose of a storage device such as an external hard drive or USB memory stick without first wiping it completely.
- Sending an email containing your personal data to someone who is not authorised to have it and doesn’t have a lawful reason to access it.
- Losing a device such as a tablet or a laptop that was unsecured and had your personal data on it.
Data Breaches Due To A Cyberattack
Some data breaches are the result of a third party gaining access to personal data through malicious, intrusive means. This may occur despite the best efforts of the healthcare provider to keep personal data safe. If you, you might not be able to claim for the harm it causes.
However, cyberattacks can be successful because data controllers haven’t provided adequate cybersecurity.
A cybercriminal might gain access to personal data by:
- Hacking the username and password of a member of staff.
- Tricking a member or staff into giving over their login details (phishing).
- Fooling a member of staff into installing malicious software such as malware, ransomware, spyware or a virus.
The Effect A Data Breach Can Have
If you become the victim of a data breach, it could have severe repercussions on your life, depending on the type of data that has been exposed. This could include:
- Your email address.
- Your patient data and medical records.
- Details related to your health insurance.
- Financial data such as card details, bank details, etc.
- Your telephone number.
- Postal address.
Gaining access to this type of data could enable the cybercriminal to commit fraudulent acts in your name, as well as:
- Trying to use your health insurance.
- Buying items using your debit or credit cards.
You may also suffer mentally. The consequences of a data breach could cause or worsen anxiety, stress or depression, for example.
Is It Possible To Recover From A Data Breach?
Recovering from a personal data breach could be a difficult experience. For example, you may need to have your bank account number changed, your debit and credit cards reissued, and things like your passport and driving licence replaced.
Once again, this could be quite stressful. And in some cases, data breach solicitors could be able to help you to claim for this psychological pressure and any financial loss. However, this is providing that the data breach was caused by the healthcare provider’s failings.
The GDPR And Third-Party Data Sharing Of Medical Data By Healthcare Providers
A data breach in healthcare can happen when your medical records or other personal data is shared with an unauthorised third party without a lawful basis. Under the UK GDPR, the healthcare provider can only use your personal data for the reasons it originally collected it for, and any other use you have authorised.
However, there are exemptions where healthcare providers can share your personal information without your consent. For example, they may use your personal data for legitimate business interests.
Generally though, unless you have given permission to the healthcare provider to share your data with specific third parties, this could be a breach of the UK GDPR. Speak to one of our advisors about your situation for clarification.
ICO Fines And Enforcement Against Private Healthcare Providers
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is an independent authority that enforces data protection law in the UK.
ICO enforcement can come in the form of heavy fines or sending an enforcement notice to the organisation. They may even help the organisation improve their data protection processes. In extreme cases, prosecution might occur.
For example, after a breach of data protection in healthcare, the ICO may take punitive action against the organisation if their failings led to it.
However, your claim will not be dependant upon the ICO taking action against the organisation responsible for exposing your data. If you have evidence of a justifiable claim, you are free to try and claim regardless of any action the ICO does or doesn’t take.
Calculating Compensation For A Data Breach By Virgin Healthcare
If your compensation claim is a success, the level of compensation that you receive for mental injuries would be driven by the severity of the harm you have suffered. The compensation table we have added below demonstrates this.
The Judicial College produces guidelines to help legal professionals when valuing injuries. Some figures from these guidelines are in the compensation table below.
|Issue with Health||Level of Severity||Range of Damages||Additional Information|
|Psychological harm||Less severe||Up to £5,500||This award takes into consideration how much sleep and everyday activities were affected.|
|Psychological harm||Severe||£51,460 - £108,620||The person's ability to cope with life, work and education will be affected and the prognosis will be very poor.|
|Psychological harm||Moderate||£5,500 - £17,900||Though the claimant will have suffered significantly, there will be a clear improvement and the prognosis will be positive.|
|Psychological harm||Moderately severe||£17,900 - £51,460||The claimant will have suffered in their everyday life, and the prognosis will be poorer than the above but more optimistic than the 'severe' category.|
Types Of Compensation Awarded To Victims Of Data Breaches
If you win your claim for a data breach, you could receive a settlement made of compensation for both psychological harm and financial loss. Alternatively, you could receive compensation for either.
We explained how being subjected to a data breach and attempting to recover from it could impact your mental health. Compensation for the psychiatric damage a personal data breach causes is otherwise known as non-material damages.
In 2015, the case Vidal-Hall and others v Google Inc resulted in the claimant successfully claiming compensation for psychological damage, despite not having suffered financial loss. Since then, if you can prove the harm caused, you could be able to claim psychological damage even if you haven’t suffered financially due to a data breach.
Then there are the financial considerations. Compensation for the financial loss that a data breach causes is material damages.
For example, personal data such as banking information may have been accessed by cybercriminals. If they steal from you and you’re unable to recover the monetary loss, you could claim it back as compensation in a data breach claim.
Reporting A Private Healthcare Company To The Information Commissioner
If your healthcare provider has caused a personal data breach exposing your data, or infringed on your rights under the UK GDPR, you could complain to the ICO. The ICO may investigate your complaint and take appropriate action.
However, the ICO will generally not take action on complaints that are made more than three months after you last had meaningful contact with the healthcare provider. For example, if you talk to the healthcare provider about the breach, and then do not follow up on it until four months afterwards, the ICO’s decisions about the complaint can be affected.
Something to note though is that you don’t have to make a complaint to the ICO in order to be able to make a claim. And even if the ICO refutes your complaint, you may still be able to make a data breach claim.
No Win No Fee Claims For A Data Breach By Virgin Healthcare
In some situations, you may be able to make a compensation claim using a solicitor working under a No Win No Fee agreement. This would mean that you would not need to pay the lawyer their fee until the claim has been won. There wouldn’t be any upfront solicitor fees or ongoing solicitor fees during the claim either.
If the claim is unsuccessful, you won’t pay any solicitor fees at all.
If the claim is a success, you would pay your solicitor a success fee. This is a small percentage of the compensation, limited by law. Furthermore, the fee is only taken once the compensation has come through, meaning you won’t be out-of-pocket and will benefit from your compensation.
Dealing With Data Breaches In The Healthcare Industry
If you have been the victim of a personal data breach, you may consider using the services of a specialist data breach lawyer to help you make a claim. Such a lawyer would understand the UK GDPR and the legal process of making data breach claims.
Lawyers can, for example:
- Cut through legal jargon.
- Negotiate a settlement on your behalf.
- Represent you if the claim goes to court (though this doesn’t often happen).
Our panel of solicitors work on a No Win No Fee basis. Additionally, they can work for you from anywhere in the country. For some advice on how a solicitor can help you, please call and talk to our advisors.
What Should You Do If Affected By A Healthcare Data Breach?
If you have become the victim of a personal data breach, there are certain steps you can take to help control the situation. You could:
- Contact the company involved. They may be able to resolve the situation with you.
- If you don’t get a satisfactory response from the healthcare provider, you could contact the ICO. However, you should do so within three months of the final meaningful response from the provider.
- If you’ve suffered financial loss and mental harm, you could find a suitable data breach lawyer to process a compensation claim for you.
Talk To Us About A Healthcare Data Breach
Thank you for reading our guide on what could happen after a data breach by Virgin Healthcare. We may be able to help you to move forward with a compensation claim.
- Contact us for a callback at a time best for you.
- Call us on 0161 696 9685.
- Use our live chat feature for an instant online reply.
An advisor will talk over your situation with you and discuss your best next steps. Our advisors are available 24/7 and offer free legal advice. In addition, you won’t be under any obligation to proceed with the services of our panel of solicitors.
Frequently Asked Questions About Healthcare Data Breaches
We have given answers to common questions about data breach claims below.
Can you sue a hospital for a data breach?
If a hospital was supposed to protect your personal data but failed to do so due to positive wrongful conduct, you could claim. However, you’d need to prove that you suffered financial loss or psychological harm.
What is the main cause of healthcare data breaches?
Healthcare data breaches can be caused by a number of factors. This includes accidents and deliberate actions. For example, cybercriminals could try to hack a hospital’s systems. Alternatively, an employee might accidentally share personal information without a lawful basis.
Can an individual be held responsible for a data breach?
Though individuals can be prosecuted, if you have a valid claim, you would usually be claiming against a company. You should talk to one of our advisors to learn what your options may be in this instance.
Where To Learn More
We hope you can get more insight through the links below.
Additionally, these other claim guides might be useful to you:
Thanks for reading our guide on what you could do after a potential data breach by Virgin Healthcare.
Written by MW
Edited by RV