Wednesday, May 23, 2018 by David Williams
How would you feel if you found out that your workplace was spying on you? Would you be reasonable about it in your reaction, and simply demand a proper explanation from upper management? Or would you just pretend that you didn’t see anything and carry on as if nothing bad is going on? For doctors working at the Hull Royal Infirmary, they reacted with rage and fury. They found out that their bosses ordered surveillance devices be installed right in their offices, and they did so without proper notice or consent.
Understandably, the doctors became angry. Based on online reports, the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) reacted with great anger as soon as its members discovered that their offices were “bugged” with the OccupEye “Automated Workspace Utilization Analysis’ devices. Although officials say that the technology is being used only for workspace-related purposes, the doctors still felt they were wronged.
According to Andrew Jordan, the HSCA’s national officer for East Yorkshire, the move violates the privacy of the doctors and almost seems like something out of a fiction book. “This is an astonishing invasion of privacy where managers have foreseen no issue with introducing hidden monitoring devices that spy on individuals as they go about their daily work,” he explained. “Working conditions are bad enough for hospital doctors and their support colleagues without the trust management taking a leaf straight from the pages of Orwell’s 1984.” (Related: Privacy invasion – Police and firefighter drones raise huge concerns.)
Due to the privacy violation cited, the HSCA is now seeking urgent clarification from the management. They want to be clear on whether the “secretive, intrusive nature” of the recording of the doctors in their offices represents a breach of data protection legislation.
“We are urging Trust management to see sense, end their Big Brother monitoring, and invest in recruitment and retention not initiatives that will only sap morale further,” Jordan added.
According to anonymous doctors who issued statements regarding the privacy violation, they found the surveillance devices and immediately realized that they were in danger. “One by one we started to notice these little boxes attached beneath our desks,” said one doctor.
Meanwhile, there are those who simply want the hospital management to extend to them the respect that they feel they deserve. “There is a basic level of dignity which one expects going about one’s job,” one doctor opined. “We should be fully focused on patient care, but instead we are spending time worrying about the time and motion data being harvested by trust management.”
Karen Towner, the union UNISON’s area organizer, said in a statement that they are closely monitoring the situation. But they don’t believe that it is a question of “Big Brother monitoring” at the moment. “UNISON understands that workspace is at a premium so the estates department need to make best use of it,” she said.
For its part, the Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust maintains that their use of the surveillance devices is in line with an overall effort to spend money wisely. “As a publicly funded organization,” they stated, “we have a duty to make best use of our workspaces and not spend money unnecessarily on equipment we don’t need.” They may claim to be doing this for a good reason, but it doesn’t change the fact that they willingly violated the privacy of their own doctors and started spying on them without their consent. And there’s simply no way to put a positive spin on that no matter how hard they try.
Read more about other types of privacy violations elsewhere in the world at PrivacyWatch.news.
Tagged Under: Tags: badmedicine, Big Brother, confidential, doctor's office, doctors, hospital surveillance, Hull and East Yorkshire Hospital, Hull Royal Infirmary, invasion of privacy, medical surveillance, NHS Trust, OccupEye, privacy violation, privacy watch, surveillance, surveillance devices, UNISON, workspace