To follow up on a breach mentioned previously on this site, the Information Commissioner’s Office has found that Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals NHS Trust breached the Data Protection Act (DPA) after the loss of 112 patient records from the Intensive Care Unit of New Cross Hospital’s Heart and Lung Unit. The unencrypted patient records were on a CD that was discovered at a bus stop near the hospital. There was no password protection on the CD, either. Previous reports had suggested that the CD contained data on over 800 patients. In a statement from the ICO, Mick Gorrill, Head of Enforcement at the ICO said:
“The fact that this information was several years old is of no consequence – patients’ personal data should always be handled in accordance with the Data Protection Act. I am pleased that the Trust has agreed to take remedial steps to ensure such an incident does not happen again.”
Investigations by the Trust and the ICO were unable to ascertain exactly why or how the CD was ever made, although it was established that there were areas of weakness in the Trust’s data protection procedures. This included a lack of timeliness in recalling patients’ charts that had been released to consultants.
The Trust has agreed to sign a formal Undertaking outlining that it will now process personal information in line with the DPA. The Trust will implement a number of security measures to protect personal information more effectively. These include ensuring that patient charts released to consultants are signed for on receipt and chased for return after just one week. Compliance with the Trust’s policies on data protection and records management will also be regularly monitored.
Source: Information Commissioner’s Office