UK: NHS hit by new data losses

Kate Foster of Scotland on Sunday reports:
THE loss of confidential personal data has become so widespread that patients’ groups last night launched a campaign to tighten up security in the NHS.

The move comes as Scotland on Sunday reveals hundreds of cases of breaches concerning patients’ notes. Two lost USB computer memory sticks containing clinical information are among almost 200 cases of missing patient data in the past three years, Scottish health boards have admitted.

The memory sticks were stolen from an office at NHS Dumfries and Galloway in May. The disclosure, released following a Freedom of Information request by this newspaper, follows a series of damning revelations about missing personal data that have shaken public confidence in Government computer systems.

Yesterday a spokesman for NHS Dumfries and Galloway insisted individuals could not be identified from the missing clinical information because their names were not recorded in the files.

But other breaches of patient confidentiality across the country range from staff leaving notes lying around to theft of computers. They include:

  • Six cases of stolen IT equipment in NHS Lanarkshire;
  • Two break-ins where computers were stolen in NHS Fife;
  • Health visitor patient records reported missing in transit by NHS Lothian;
  • Patient notes being left in laundry trolleys, dining rooms and photocopiers by staff at NHS Borders.
  • Although many of the cases involved the notes of individual patients, some concerned electronic files which can potentially hold the details of thousands of individuals.

Last night Margaret Watt, chairwoman of the Scotland Patients Association, said: “This is totally unacceptable and it is happening so much it has become a campaign issue for us. Patients should be made aware of these breaches.”

Full story – Scotland on Sunday

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  1. Anonymous - August 25, 2008

    It could be worse … maybe.

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