Estonian health minister says ambulance scandal must be investigated

  • 2023-10-27
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – Estonian Minister of Health Riina Sikkut said she hopes that an investigation will soon clarify why the employees of the Tallinn ambulance service have been taking photos of patients without permission for some time and are sharing this information on social media, the daily Postimees writes.

According to the Data Protection Act, patients may not be photographed or filmed and their personal data may not be shared.

"Patient data obtained in the course of work must undoubtedly be handled as prescribed by law and institutional rules," Sikkut said.

She added that paramedics often see people in situations that the person themself does not share pictures of, so wider trust in healthcare workers also depends on their professionalism.

"People who are in trouble rightly expect dignified and quick help from an ambulance," Sikkut added.

According to Sikkut, the incident must be investigated. She said she hopes that the cooperation between the ambulance and the Data Protection Inspectorate will quickly clarify the circumstances. The supervisory procedure of the Data Protection Inspectorate can confirm what happened, clarify the circumstances and the scope of the possible violation -- whether it was a case of a small group of employees who behaved inappropriately or, whether in the event of a violation, the ambulance service provider can also be criticized.

According to the "Kuuuurija" television program, at least the head of operations of the ambulance, Taavi Reimers, knew about the incident, as he recently made a post on Facebook reprimanding his colleagues and mentioned, among other things, that the management had received screenshots from several social media groups and conversations of ambulance workers.

"Content of the screenshots: pictures of patients, corpses, calls, ambulance cards, etc. And extremely vulgar text accompanying this!" he wrote.