UK: Royal Bolton Hospital patients’ details dumped in a McDonald's bin

An investigation has been launched after confidential hospital patient documents were discovered in a bin.

The information — which contained names, ages and medical history of patients at The Royal Bolton Hospital— was found in a bin outside McDonald’s in Derby Street, Bolton, on Monday, by a diner at the restaurant.

The document contained the details of 19 patients and was marked as confidential, with instructions to destroy the information at the end of the shift. Dee Sissons, director of patient safety and experience, and chief nurse, said last night: “We take patient confidentiality issues very seriously and are, therefore, extremely concerned to hear of this incident.

This is not the hospital’s first data breach. As the story reports:

It is not the first time that confidential details have been found elsewhere.

In February, 2009, hospital chiefs wrote to 1,300 patients after documents were found in the street.

The Royal Bolton Hospital later sacked contractor Severnside, which was responsible for transporting the confidential waste for disposal by pulping.

NHS Bolton also lost information in September, 2009, when details including phone messages from patients and staff payslips, were thrown away with general rubbish instead of being disposed of as confidential information.

Paper files containing the names, addresses and phone numbers of a group of disabled people were lost on a train in November that year. Cllr Andy Morgan, opposition spokesman on Bolton Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee, said: “This is ridiculous. It is about the fourth time that documents have fallen off the back of a truck or have been found in a bin.

Read more on This is Lancashire.

So… does the ICO consider past bad deeds in determining whether to fine an entity? If so, Royal Bolton may have some penalties coming its way. At the very least, I would hope that the ICO would take some sterner measures in light of past similar problems with paper records.

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