Monday, July 22, 2024

TikTokkers find death records at St. Loman’s Hospital

A Tiktok creator said security at St Loman’s Hospital, Mullingar should be “tighter” after he highlighted potentially “detrimental” personal data breaches at the abandoned hospital.

Jamie Robinson, a social media creator with over a quarter of a million Tiktok followers who visits abandoned sites in Ireland, showed how personal data contained in paper records were easily found once inside.

A container marked “Deaths A-Z” was found with records of names, dates of birth and addresses of individuals. Discharge reports appeared to accompany the death reports in a separate file.

Within the building itself, the various colour schemes of each wing and the tiny rooms for patients within the former psychiatric hospital were commented on. Old gym equipment, snooker tables, wheelchairs, beds and hospital trolleys were left in a state of disrepair.

The Tiktok video, which has been posted in the last week, has echos of similar data breaches of files stored incorrectly at other abandoned institutions, such as St Conal’s Psychiatric Hospital in Letterkenny, Co. Donegal and another believed to have occurred at a Dublin facility.

The Data Protection Commission (DPC) opened an investigation into the HSE over those data breach occurrences in May 2024. At the time, the DPC said the inquiry concerned the storage and retention of personal data contained in paper records held by the HSE via its use of external storage facilities.

In 2023, the DPC released its annual report, showing that last year was a record year for fines and penalties worth €1.55 million imposed.

Speaking to Topic, Jamie, who describes himself as an explorer, said: “If people wanted to, they could certainly go and find this stuff. I know there are people that would really go into detail about it online for ‘likes’ which could be very detrimental. There are families seeing their ancestors’ history on Tiktok which I don’t agree with.

“I just showed what the front cover looked like, but in all these asylums and hospitals, there are boxes stacked. Thousands of them.

“In St Loman’s in particular, obviously you will see these items all over Ireland as they are technically storage facilities for the HSE. You would expect to find stuff normally in the basements behind what would have been a closed door that was probably broke in over the years.

“I expect to find equipment and machinery in these buildings but documents like that, I would rather they be moved to a different facility completely, maybe some kind of headquarters that could store them.”

The 23 year-old creator, who hails from Ulster, said he was pleased with the social media reaction to the video.

“There were a lot of people from the local area who saw it and they were like, ‘Wow, thank you for showing me inside of it.’ There was never much negativity from it.”

In response to questioning from Topic, the HSE commented: “The HSE has communicated with the Data Protection Commission regarding this matter and we have determined that this is not a reportable personal data breach.

“The HSE is currently engaged and co-operating fully with the Data Protection Commission in a statutory inquiry on the storage and retention of paper records in the HSE.

“The HSE takes all breaches of data protection seriously and manages all breaches of data protection in line with data protection legislation and HSE policy. We cannot comment on an ongoing inquiry.”

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