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Quite concerned about the privacy/confidentiality of my booking appointment.

(23 Posts)
mampam Tue 25-Mar-14 13:00:54

I live in a very rural area where the catchment for maternity services falls to one small town which covers a fairly large area. Midwife appointments are held in the children's centre and no other health service appointments are held there, so if you are there and waiting for an appointment it is pretty obvious that you are seeing a midwife.

What also concerns me is that I overheard a conversation between two colleagues who have recently both announced that they are pregnant, saying that when you go for your appointments you have to sign into a book where you can see everybody elses names that have had appointments with the midwife that day. One of my colleagues also said that she recognised all but two names on the list and that was how she found out that so and so and so and so was pregnant!!

I don't want to tell anyone before my 12 week scan and I certainly do not want my colleagues to know before then. I'm only 6 weeks but feel quite reluctant to make my booking appointment.

Has anyone else had this problem? Is there anything I can do or am I just being over sensitive? But surely signing into an appointment book where you can see the list of other patients is breaching confidentiality isn't it?

Rootvegetables Tue 25-Mar-14 13:05:37

It sounds like a very strange system I wonder why they do it or who thought of it?! Makes no sense to me, I think I'd just politely ignore it and decline if asked to sign it saying why. Congratulations!!

treaclesoda Tue 25-Mar-14 13:10:46

I can sort of see what you're getting at, but in my area the midwife appointments are held in a particular building in outpatients that is only used for midwifery appointments, so if you park in a particular car park and walk towards that building, it is also immediately clear that you are seeing a midwife. And again, with the breach of confidentiality, I do see what you mean, but if you sit in a waiting room along with the other patients you will see each other anyway, or you will hear names called out. I know my friend found out I was pregnant when we ended up sitting opposite each other in the waiting room (she was a few months further on that me).

I can understand your concerns, but I think you might be overthinking it. The signing in is strange though.

Middleagedmotheroftwo Tue 25-Mar-14 13:14:01

I see your point, but it wouldn't be a big issue for me.

You could suggest, tactfully, that it's a close community where everyone knows everyone, and maybe they could think of a better method. But whatever specialised clinic you go to (even the embarassing ones), you'll always risk bumping in to someone you know.

Middleagedmotheroftwo Tue 25-Mar-14 13:15:09

Signing in may well be for a record of who is in building in case of a fire or something - it may be a pre-requisite of the centre that they are using for the clinic.

mampam Tue 25-Mar-14 13:19:37

It's not so much where I have to go to have my appointment as I'll just have to hope that I don't run into someone I know and that would be the same where ever the appointment was held I suppose but what worries me is that having avoided being 'spotted' or not as the case might be, one of my colleagues could come in an hour after me and know that I've seen the midwife by looking down the list of names. I just find this a gross breach of privacy.

changedirection Tue 25-Mar-14 13:23:58

Just scribble your name illegibly on the sign in!

treaclesoda Tue 25-Mar-14 13:30:36

But what would be the difference be between eg a colleague seeing your name in a sign in book an hour after you've been there, and a colleague actually seeing you in person because they arrive at the same time? They could have an appointment an hour later than you, but be there an hour early due to, I don't know, the fact they had to get a lift with someone. If you think about it that way, why does the signing in thing bother you so much more? Also, presumably, they are there because they are pregnant too, so you're in the same boat anyway.

mampam Tue 25-Mar-14 13:30:46

Good idea changedirection the thought had already crossed my mind smile

mampam Tue 25-Mar-14 13:45:40

I do worry about bumping into one of my colleagues but I have to accept that if I did it is just one of those unfortunate things but having to sign into a book so that others can read my name is totally unnessecary imo.

lighteningmcmama Tue 25-Mar-14 13:52:46

Sign illegibly as pp said.

Do you have a PALS service locally? They are not just for complaints but also help with any patient feedback. I would contact them because it is indeed a strange system. And I do agree it is different bumping into someone compared to signing the book-there are obviously more ppl in total seen on one day than at any one time so it does increase the chances of being found out!

MinesAPintOfTea Tue 25-Mar-14 13:57:25

You can always just mention "data protection" about having a publicly available sign-in book for a sensitive appointment. Maybe suggest that they could have a private list.

iamusuallybeingunreasonable Tue 25-Mar-14 14:03:17

It's because it's a childrens centre but you don't need to register to attend your appointments, I refused to join mine this time round after bring bombarded first time round, they gave me done funny looks but you don't have to join smile

Middleagedmotheroftwo Tue 25-Mar-14 14:05:24

I agree - what's the difference between someone reading your name that you've been there, and someone seeing you there? I don't see how it's a breach of privacy. Your name isn't a state secret. Do you go indisguise/incognito wherever you go?

BTW - I wouldn't be surprised if lots of people you know already suspect that you're "with child". I was amazed at how many people said "I thought so", or "we know" when I eventually decided to break the news.

WeeClype Tue 25-Mar-14 14:09:20

At one of my midwife app's the midwife called me and when I sat down she said "excuse me I just have to make a phone call".....she was phoning the hospital to let them know she was sending a girl for a growth scan so basically I heard all the girls private information!

MinesAPintOfTea Tue 25-Mar-14 14:19:02

Middleaged I'd be very surprised if requiring someone to sign in publicly to what is generally considered to be a very confidential appointment is acceptable under the data protection act. It wouldn't be difficult to keep a record out of sight, especially as its for appointments so they can have a list and check off when people arrive.

Someone seeing you there is less likely than them seeing the book.

Thisismyfirsttime Tue 25-Mar-14 16:14:56

Why don't you just sign in with your first name? Where I work (similar scenario) we need the book and for patients to sign in in case we need to evacuate. I've also seen someone I know from in and around my workplace at every one of my appointments with the midwife and no-one's said anything other than 'hi' at the time. I think it's one of those things you just have to deal with!

Roseandmabelshouse Tue 25-Mar-14 16:15:21

Ask for a home booking. I think it's fair enough if you are a very private person and you see this as an issue.

inmybelly Tue 25-Mar-14 19:16:50

I work in the NHS and the policies around privacy and dignity mean that names of patients really shouldn't be seen by other patients or the public or, in fact, anyone who doesn't need to know. It's very strictly adhered to in my trust.

Bumping into people in a waiting room is pretty impossible to avoid, but a list of names that's visible to everyone is very easy to avoid. Even if they just used a peice of card to cover up all the names above yours. I'd give that as feedback.

Do any female friends of yours know you're pregnant? One way around it would be to take them with you and if anyone see's you, you can say you were just supporting them on their appointment. Obviously the friend would have to consent to this!! But would be a way around it if you were absolutely determined to keep the secret.

I have to attend a midwife appointment at the hospital I work in soon, and there's a good chance someone will see me walking in... I'm just going to lie and say I've arranged a meeting with a midwife to discuss something work wise. Not completely unfeasable, but no one will believe me!

LongTailedTit Tue 25-Mar-14 20:04:15

I get what you mean - depending on how many visitors they have daily, anyone who knew you that comes in that week would immediately know you're pregnant and your privacy would be shot to bits.

Tbh I've always had to sign in at children's centres, it's just their fire regs afaik, so use a false name to sign in - but let the midwife know you've done that and why. The book is for the children's centres H&S benefit, not an official record of medical appointments.

I worked on reception for a long time and lots of people had confidential meetings and refused to sign in with their name - i didn't mind what name they wrote down as long as they promised to respond to it in the event we had a fire! A lot of Donald Ducks in my visitor book.... smile

HoneyBadgerPersonified Tue 25-Mar-14 22:19:45

What longtailed said...
Children's centres ask you to sign in regardless of whether you're there for a play group session, a toddler music class, a baby weigh-in, a special needs therapy session, or a midwife appt... They probably haven't thought about the data protection ramifications tbh, may be worth mentioning how you feel to your midwife, after signing in with a cartoon name smile

rockin20s Wed 26-Mar-14 09:35:59

for those who say you don't see the difference in seeing the person and them seeing your name

if you bump into them you can at least politely point out that you are very early on and no body knows yet.

if they see your name, but don't speak to you, then i would think they will be more likely to gossip and spread your news as they wont have the guilt knowing that you are trying to keep this a secret.

I would give the center some feedback that leaving the list out for all to see is a data protection breech

mampam Wed 26-Mar-14 16:15:54

Thank you for all the advice. I am definitely going to mention it to either the midwife or the children's centre staff.

I'm going to sign in with either a false name or a slight alteration of my name. I only ever use the shortened version of my Christian name and have a double barrelled surname so I could use my full Christian name and one of my surnames if you see what I mean?

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