NHS trusts lose patients` details
Saturday December 22, 2007 10:33 PM
Nine NHS trusts have admitted losing patients' information in the aftermath of the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) data loss scandal, it has emerged.
Hundreds of thousands of people are thought to have been affected by the breaches of strict data protection rules by the health service.
The losses were disclosed by the Sunday Mirror as police continued to hunt for two HMRC computer discs containing the details of 25 million child benefit claimants. Since the discs went missing in the post it has also emerged that three million motorists' details have been lost in Iowa, in the American mid-west.
One of the NHS trusts involved - Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells - has reported two breaches to the Department of Health (DoH), meaning that 10 cases have occurred in total.
The DoH said it did not have details of how many patients were affected in each case as the breaches were being dealt with locally.
However, City and Hackney Primary Care Trust has reportedly lost the details of 160,000 children after a computer disc failed to arrive at its destination at St Leonard's Hospital, east London.
The other trusts involved are Bolton Royal Hospital, Sutton and Merton PCT, Sefton Merseyside PCT, Mid-Essex Care Trust, East and North Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Norwich and Gloucester Partnership Foundation Trust.
NHS chief executive David Nicholson recently wrote to NHS managers reminding them of their responsibilities with regard to data handling.
A DoH spokesperson said: "Since the recent heightened concern about data protection a small number of trusts (nine) have reported breaches of their own security rules.
"There are strict guidelines and procedures for dealing with such breaches. Trusts have an obligation to inform patients where appropriate. There is no evidence of any data falling into the wrong hands. Investigations are under way in all the trusts involved and action will be taken against anyone who has failed to fulfil their legal responsibilities."