A CARMARTHENSHIRE nurse, who was sacked after 'inappropriately accessing' more than 3,000 patient files over a two-year period, has admitted breaching the Data Protection Act.

Sixty-three-year-old Elaine Lewis, from Llansteffan, appeared at Llanelli Magistrates Court today (Friday, March 3).

She admitted obtaining personal data without permission between July 8, 2013, and September 2, 2015 - breaching sections 55 and 60 of the Act.

Lewis was based at Glangwili Hospital, in Carmarthen, but accessed the records of patients from across the health board region, including Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion.

She was fined £650, and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £65, and costs of £664.

In July 2016, Hywel Dda University Health Board wrote to a number of patients to provide them with information and support, after an internal investigation found that Lewis had inappropriately accessed electronic hospital records.

She was dismissed for breaching patient confidentiality and acting outside of the health board's professional code of conduct, and its policies on data protection and information governance.

The health board also referred the situation to the Information Commissioner for independent investigation.

Health board chief executive Steve Moore said: “We are satisfied the Information Commissioner and the court have taken appropriate action against the individual in question and now that the investigation is complete we will be writing again to each patient directly affected by this matter to apologise and offer further support.

“Patient confidentiality is of paramount importance to us and since the initial incident we have put in place a series of measures to strengthen our information governance processes and procedures.

"We know that this has been a distressing case for those affected and we hope that our actions have demonstrated our ongoing commitment to ensuring that we avoid something similar from ever happening again.”