Hospital supervision order for ‘snooping’ councillor


By Michael MacLeod

A MAVERICK councillor has been banned from going into a hospital without supervision after allegedly snooping in to steal confidential information.

Ellen Glass is accused of lying to staff at Livingston’s St John’s hospital by saying she was an MP, in a bid to find out if staffing levels were low.

But she has hit back at the “nonsense” claims, saying the information was written on paper taped to a desk.

Now NHS Lothian are investigating her visit to the West Lothian hospital, accusing her of “serious breach of data protection.”

They have demanded her notes, and told the former nurse manager that she can now only enter the hospital if escorted by management.

Ms Glass visited ward 14 last week having heard complaints from constituents that staffing levels at the hospital were too low.

She admits she wrote down a number from a piece of paper from a charge nurse’s desk in a “public place.”

But nurses complained, worried that the councillor, who was elected as part of the Action to Save St John’s Hospital group, took down confidential details.

In a letter to Ms Glass, NHS Lothian chairman Charles Winstanley said: “It has been reported by staff you were looking at papers on the nurses’ station on that ward.

“The charge nurse stated she was initially informed by you that you were a member of management and later that you were an elected member of parliament.

“I am asking you to provide you with those notes you took. A possible breach of the Data Protection Act is something we take very seriously.”

Speaking on her behalf, Ms Glass’ hospital campaign colleague Gordon Beurskens said the allegations were “utter nonsense”.

He said: “This is nothing short of harassment by the NHS.

“Ellen was following up a constituent’s enquiry, who was a patient at St John’s, that the ward was understaffed and the sickness and absence rate was extremely high.

“Her attention was drawn to a piece of paper that was taped to a public desk.

“Are they seriously suggesting that they tape private and confidential material to desks which anyone can look at?”

An NHS spokesperson said: “NHS Lothian takes patient and staff confidentiality extremely seriously and the chairman has written to Cllr Glass as part of this investigation.

“She only needs to contact the St John’s site manager if she wants to visit the hospital.”