East Cheshire NHS Trust agrees to improve security after breaching the Data Protection Act

East Cheshire NHS Trust has agreed to take action to comply with data security requirements and has signed an Undertaking to assure the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) that personal data will be kept securely in future

The ICO has found East Cheshire NHS Trust in breach of the Data Protection Act after pages from an Accident and Emergency register were found in a garden in Newcastle-under-Lyme. The pages contained sensitive personal data relating to the physical and mental health of over 60 patients.

The loss followed an office move involving various departments of the Trust during which an external company was hired, without a written contract, to clear out rubbish from the old premises. During the clearance documents were disposed of in open skips, and once the Trust became aware this was taking place it failed to react in time to prevent the loss of some of the records.

John Wilbraham, Chief Executive of East Cheshire NHS Trust has agreed to ensure that when third party suppliers have access to personal data, a written contract will be agreed prior to work commencing that includes requirements for personal information to be kept securely. Staff will also be made aware of, and receive training on, the Trust’s policy for the storage and use of personal information. Furthermore, the Trust has agreed to ensure other security measures deemed necessary are implemented to protect data from unauthorised and unlawful processing, accidental loss, destruction or damage.

Mick Gorrill, Assistant Information Commissioner at the ICO, said: “It is vital that sensitive personal information, such as patient information, is handled securely. This is an important principle of the Data Protection Act. Organisations must implement appropriate safeguards to ensure personal details about patients are stored and disposed of securely. I am pleased that the Trust is taking remedial action to improve data security.”

A copy of the Undertaking can be downloaded from http://www.ico.gov.uk/what_we_cover/data_protection/enforcement.aspx.

Source: Information Commissioner’s Office

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