We’re all well used to being told that we can’t do this or that because it would contravene Health & Safety. This little story that was picked up as a footnote in the national press shows that Data Protection is hot on its heels as a standard trump card to end any debate with those in petty authority.
An 81-year old pensioner, Arthur Staines (pictured) dropped off his partner at their GP’s surgery in Braintree, Essex. When he returned later to collect her, receptionists refused to tell him whether she was still in a consultation or had left the building. The reason they gave was that they would be contravening the Data Protection Act (and, for good measure, the Care Quality Commission guidelines). He took his story to the Braintree and Witham Times, where journalists took time out to check with both the Information Commissioner’s Office and the CQC. Needless to say, both organisations said that there were no such rules. Too often these regulatory bodies are used as the excuses for those with petty powers over us to tell us nothing, and do nothing for us.
The real disappointment about this story is that the journalists didn’t follow up by campaigning for the return of the stocks, so that the people who made up these rules, and made life difficult for Arthur Staines and his partner, could be named and shamed. Until more stories like this are dragged into the open, along with the guilty parties, we’ll all suffer more of this kind of nonsense.