Anger as Labour MP makes ‘bribery’ claim against Scots NHS staff

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by G.A.Ponsonby
 
A Labour MP has been blasted after claiming that Scottish NHS staff could have accepted a bribe in order to hand over confidential medical records to newspaper journalists.
 
Tom Greatrex, Labour MP for Hamilton and Rutherglen, is facing calls to apologise after demanding an immediate investigation into Lothian NHS staff he claimed may have taken cash in order to release the medical records of Gordon Brown’s son Fraser.

The Guardian newspaper printed a front page story on Tuesday that claimed the Sun discovered Brown’s son Fraser had been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis by accessing medical records in 2006, when Brown was chancellor.

The allegation prompted Greatrex to issue a press release containing the allegations of possible bribery against Lothian NHS staff.

However it later emerged that the information had come from a member of the public whose son also suffers from cystic fibrosis, and who wanted to raise awareness of the condition. The as yet unidentified man has now signed an affidavit to confirm he was the source of the story.

The Guardian newspaper has since retracted claims that information on Gordon Brown’s son had been “blagged” by the media from his medical records. 

Edinburgh Southern MSP Jim Eadie has now called on the Labour MP to provide evidence backing his claims or issue an immediate apology to the NHS Lothian staff.

Mr Eadie, who is also a member of the Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee said:

“Any breach of patient confidentiality, particularly the disclosure of a child’s medical condition, is utterly deplorable and has been condemned by the Health Secretary and by people across the political spectrum and beyond.  On that, we all stand together.

“Tom Greatrex made very serious claims regarding the integrity of NHS staff and the security of patient information.  He must produce evidence to back up his claims or he must retract them.

“He issued a press release on Tuesday alleging that medical records may have been leaked from within Scotland’s NHS, he demanded an immediate inquiry, and on national TV claimed that a member of NHS staff could have been bribed to leak the information.

“NHS Lothian has made clear they stand ready to investigate any claims brought forward. If there is no evidence then Tom Greatrex owes the staff of NHS Lothian an apology for casting a cloud of suspicion over them and their reputation.

“I hope and believe that he will do the decent thing.  Either way, he cannot simply issue a press release on Tuesday and then say and do nothing more about such as serious matter.”

Greatrex is no stranger to controversy.  In April 2010 the same Labour MP was at the centre of a storm after Labour MSPs at Holyrood called for the resignation of SNP Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham over a Royal security leak.  The leak was subsequently traced back to Tom Greatrex who was a former aide to then Secretary of State for Scotland Jim Murphy.

Murphy, tipped to lead Labour in Scotland when Iain Gray eventually stands down, denied knowing anything about the leak.