A HEALTH adviser has been suspended by a South Tyneside community centre over claims that he posted derogatory comments about a service user on social media.
The man is alleged to have secretly photographed a client in the library at Cleadon Park Primary Care Centre and Library, in Prince Edward Road, South Shields, and posted it on his Facebook site, complete with insulting messages about the man’s physical appearance.
Among the messages, some using obscene language, posted alongside the client user’s photograph were: “A snapshot while he was scratching away at his head with his tongue hanging out.”
Another comment reads: “His gut is like a scaled-down version of the Alps,” before adding: “He’s using a computer near me. He’s got four carrier bags of cardigans and opened letters with him. Mad.”
An investigation has been launched after a complaint was made to his employer, the North East Council on Addictions (NECA).
The alarm was raised by John Humble, a voluntary worker and former housing officer with South Shields Citizens’ Advice Bureau.
He alerted staff to the messages when he called in at the primary care centre late last month.
He spotted the worker and reported the issue to the centre’s practice manager and chief librarian, making them aware of what he labelled “vile messages and breaches of client confidentiality”.
Mr Humble says he is relieved that an investigation had been launched, adding that he has also taken his complaint to the National Health Service and Parliamentary ombudsman.
Mr Humble said: “These are absolutely disgusting, vulgar and deplorable comments about an innocent person.
“It is a clear breach of this person’s confidentiality and of NHS policy.
“When I initially raised the issue, I wasn’t happy with the response, but I’m glad that this investigation is now to be carried out.”
South Tyneside Council helps oversee the services offered at Cleadon Park.
A council spokesman – speaking on behalf of the authority, South Tyneside CVS and NECA – said: “We are aware of the concerns that have been raised regarding this matter.
“A member of staff has been suspended while we work closely to ensure a thorough investigation is carried out.
“All of the organisations involved in the investigation are committed to treating people with respect and courtesy at all times.”