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NHS must tighten data security

26th May 2009

The NHS has been warned by the information commissioner that it needs to make improvements to its data security procedures, following the loss of thousands of records containing personal information.

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The independent regulator said it had "taken action" against 14 NHS bodies over a six-month period.

Security breaches included the loss of the records of more than 6,000 prisoners from Preston Prison in Lancashire. The data was held on an encrypted memory stick which had a piece of paper attached which revealed the password.

An unencrypted memory stick which contained the details of over 700 patients at Cambridge University Hospital was left in a car.

Information Commissioner Richard Thomas has sent a letter to the Department of Health's leading civil servant to request that the service is improved immediately.

Mick Gorrill, the assistant information commissioner, told The Independent that the "inexcusable" loss of information by the health service was a source of "great concern".

A Department of Health spokesman said: "The chief executive of the NHS wrote to all senior health managers reminding them of their responsibilities."

He added that the permanent secretary at the DH would be sending a reply to the letter in "due course" and they would act "against anyone responsible for breaching our strict data protection rules".

 

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