Cumbria NHS Trust lost patient data

March 3, 2008

From the Cumbria News and Star, 1 March 2008

The personal information of Cumbrian NHS patients has been lost – and they have not been told. A computer memory stick containing the names and addresses of patients suffering from ME was lost by Cumbria Primary Care Trust, it emerged this week.

Using freedom of information laws, the News & Star learned of the blunder, which happened in May last year. It is thought the memory stick vanished during a move from offices in the west of the county to Keswick.

The lost personal data was attached to drafts of letters informing the people of the PCT’s services for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and ME.

Health bosses did not inform the six affected patients after deciding the lost information was a “low level” security breach.

A spokesman from the ME and CFS support group said: “People with ME and CFS are unwell people and could be considered vulnerable people. We would be concerned if that information got into inappropriate hands.

“It’s a poor reflection of their security processes.”

Linda Danielis, of the Carlisle branch of the support group, said care must be taken to ensure sensitive data about patients is encrypted.

The PCT acknowledged the loss and said that the incident involved “a very small number of patients”.

A spokesperson said: “Following this incident changes have been made to working practices to make sure this does not happen again.”

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