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

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

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.

Nhs tracing text message

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.

Sign up to our free newsletter.
Security news, advice, and tips.

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.

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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

  1. Carl

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

  2. MB

    I too just received a test result text meant for someone else
    . how do I report this?

  3. Jenny Hodges

    I have too! How do I let the poor fella know??

What do you think? Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.