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Monday 21st May 2018

Thousands of prescriptions lost

6th March 2008

The government has admitted that thousands of prescription forms carrying confidential patient information are lost every year.


Since 1997, just under 300,000 forms containing names and addresses of patients have been lost or stolen in England, though the government has stressed that this was less than 0.01% of the total.

The information was disclosed in a response to a Parliamentary question from the Conservative Party.

Health Minister Dawn Primarolo confirmed that between April 1997 and September 2007, 298,100 forms went missing in 220 separate incidents of loss or theft, though with no particular rising trend.

She explained that 2000/01 was the worst year with 69,000 forms while in 2005/06, it was only 10,400. The postal service, couriers and police had been notified in each case.

Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said: “The government has been serially incompetent in looking after people’s personal data. This isn’t just the odd mistake here and there, this is equivalent to 78 prescription forms lost every day since 1997. People need to feel like they can trust the government when they hand over personal data.?

The current paper-based prescription system means forms must be sent as part of a batch to the Prescription Pricing Division for processing.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society said that prescription form loss was rare but could possibly see patient data falling into the wrong hands.

“There are electronic systems on the way, but no system would be perfect, and there would still have to be a paper back-up somewhere,? said a spokesman.


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