NHS Test & Trace sends text to wrong person, telling them they tested negative for Coronavirus

Graham Cluley
@gcluley

Former British MP Emma Dent Coad was not very happy to hear from the NHS Wales Test and Trace service today. Not because the SMS text message she received told her that she had tested positive for the Covid-19 Coronavirus (it didn’t, and she hasn’t).

But rather because the SMS clearly was meant to go to someone else entirely.

On Twitter, the former Kensington MP didn’t hold back, expressing her concern that the SMS notification from NHS Wales of a negative test result had not only been clearly sent to the wrong phone number, but also that there was no obvious way to inform the service of the error.

Who the hell’s in charge of NHS text notifications?

NHS WALES has just informed me, in English and Welsh, that xxx (not me) has tested negative for CV19.

I’m delighted for xxx, but 1, WTAF, and 2, there is no way to respond!

In a screenshot shared on Twitter, Dent Coad – who is still a Labour councillor – revealed that the message exposed the patient’s name and full date of birth.

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I suspect what’s happened here is simple human error. Either the person being tested doesn’t know their own mobile phone number (hey, don’t laugh. I don’t know my phone number. After all, why would I ever ring it?) or it was entered incorrectly by whoever registered the patient for the Coronavirus test.

It’s easy to imagine, for instance, that a couple of numbers may have been accidentally transposed.

The likelihood of an error like this occuring could perhaps be lessened by simply double-checking, or even sending a confirmation text to the number a patient has registered with the service, but… I guess these systems have been built in something of a hurry.

The worry is, of course, that some people are not going to receive information about their test status (positive or negative). At best that could be inconvenient and maybe a leak of personal information, but at worst it could increase the chances of the Coronavirus being spread to others.

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Graham Cluley is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of computer security, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley, or drop him an email.

2 comments on “NHS Test & Trace sends text to wrong person, telling them they tested negative for Coronavirus”

  1. I've just received a message meant for someone else too. Did you manage to find out how to report this properly?

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