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Data thieves steal entire GP practice system

By Steve Nowottny

Thieves have managed to steal an entire GP practice system, it was claimed today, in the latest series of NHS data security breaches to be revealed.

A list of breaches reported to SHAs, obtained by the Liberal Democrats under the Freedom of Information Act, shows a catalogue of errors across the country, with reports of lost or stolen records, CDs and laptops, and patient notes being left in public places.

In one incident in March, NHS East of England reports simply ‘GP practice system stolen' – although the report adds that the system was encrypted.

Other incidents include the theft of vehicles containing patient identifiable information, allegations of data ‘misuse' and a trust in London which mistakenly released the names of 50 patients in response to another Freedom of Information request.

The latest revelations follow a Pulse investigation in September which found that four out of five NHS trusts have lost patient data or suffered a security breach since the beginning of last year, with a total of more than 1,300 incidents reported.

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb called for the Government's plans for a national patient database to be abandoned in the wake of the findings.

‘There reports show utterly shocking lapses in security,' he said. ‘The degree of negligence in some cases is breathtaking given the absolute sensitivity of personal patient data.'

‘Patients have a right to expect their information will be treated with the utmost care.'

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