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Thousands of patient records stolen

The personal information of thousands of patients has been stolen in the latest in a series of laptop thefts.

A senior manager at Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust had a laptop containing patients' names, dates of birth, contact details and treatment information taken from his car while in Edinburgh last month.

The computer had a password system, but the information was unencrypted.

The incident is the latest in a number of laptop thefts, including one from the home of a Wolverhampton GP earlier in June which also led to the loss of medical records.

In a statement, the trust apologised to the patients affected, assuring them their information was backed up on hospital systems and that there would be a full investigation.

The staff member involved has been suspended, while GPs have been warned by a medical defence body that similar incidents could see them hauled before the GMC.

The Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland (MDDUS) has issued advice warning GPs on their responsibility to safeguard patients details.

George Fernie, MDDUS medico-legal advisor, said GPs could face a GMC summons or a claim for compensation if they were thought to have handled data recklessly.

Storing details on laptops and PDAs efficiently to meet GMC standards is encouraged, but Dr Fernie emphasised the need to prioritise security and actively adhere to advice on encryption.

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