Personal info lost in Oldham

January 11, 2008

By Don Frame

SENSITIVE personal information on almost 150 NHS patients in the Oldham area has been `lost', health bosses admitted today.

The Oldham NHS Primary Care Trust says two data sticks containing highly personal assessment notes of 148 clients who have been in contact with the trust's continuing care service have been reported missing.

Health chiefs have already launched an internal investigation and tried to contact all the individuals affected. As yet the trust has been unable to talk to three of the patients involved.

The incident is just the latest in a series of breaches of security involved health trusts around the country. The government admitted just before Christmas that medical records of hundreds of thousands of patients have gone missing from nine NHS trusts.

The admission came in the wake of an investigation into data protection in all areas of public life, triggered by the loss of 25 million child benefit records by HM Revenue and Customs.

The Oldham trust said today it had identified all the individuals affected, and had followed up contacts in writing, offering its sincere apologies. It has also set up a dedicated freephone information line for people who have further questions.


In a statement issued today it said NHS North West and the Department of Healthy have been informed. "The PCT takes patient confidentiality extremely seriously, and has taken immediate action to prevent any further similar incidents" it says.

All data sticks containing 'personal' information have been recalled, and a full and through review of current processes and procedures is underway.

Trust chief executive Gail Richards said: "We are deeply sorry. This should never have happened. We have launched a full and thorough investigation and are reviewing our current policies relating to data storage. In the meantime we have taken all the necessary steps to ensure that it cannot happen again."

She said: "The data in this incident is limited to clients assessed by the PCT's continuing to care service. All the individuals affected have been identified.

"Our first priority has been to try to contact all 148 individuals or their representatives, personally. We have made personal contact with 145, and offered to visit them. We are waiting for three to get back to us after several attempts to contact them.

"The information reported as missing, relates to copies of assessments held in a secure central file, and so all information relating to people's future care remains complete. There is no risk at all to anyone's ongoing care.

"While we believe the data sticks have been lost, we have reported the incident to the police in order to get the best advice possible. We have no reason at all to believe the information has been accessed by anyone else."

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