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Friday 28th October 2016

Hospital laptop stolen

30th June 2008

A laptop computer containing the personal details of several thousand patients has been stolen from the car of a senior hospital manager from the Colchester University Hospital.

The information contained on the laptop - which included patient names, postcodes and treatment plans - was password protected so that only authorised staff could access it, although it has emerged that the data was unencrypted.

An inquiry is under way and the police have been called in to establish how the laptop came to be stolen from the manager’s car while it was parked in Edinburgh.

The manager concerned has been suspended.

Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Peter Murphy has written to thousands of patients explaining the security breach, which happened on June 18.

Mr Murphy said the trust acknowledged patient data should not be stored unencrypted on a laptop and he had previously written to staff reminding them of this.

In a statement the trust said: “We have also set up a helpline for patients to ring for further information and the number is on the letter sent to the patients affected. If patients have not received this letter, their details are not on the lists stolen.”

The trust, which has apologised to patients for any distress caused, also said that it believed the thief would have wiped the laptop and tried to sell it.

Lothian and Borders Police have confirmed that they are investigating the theft from the car park and that no-one had been arrested over the incident.


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