Coventry & Warwickshire

Coventry hospital patients' details 'found in bin'

Hospital patients' medical details were found "accidentally disposed of" in a communal bin at a block of flats, the Information Commissioner's Office said.

Its report said records from University Hospital in Coventry were found in public bins on two separate occasions.

The ICO said "policies and procedures on the use of personal information were not sufficient".

University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust said it had already changed some of its practices.

According to the ICO, a member of staff at the hospital "accidentally disposed" of records detailing the treatment of 18 patients "in a communal waste bin at a residential apartment block" in February of this year.

In a second incident in May, it said that a member of the public "discovered details relating to a patient's sensitive medical procedures and test results which were allegedly found in a bin outside Coventry University Hospital".

The ICO has ordered the trust to review its policies to ensure personal information is "adequately protected and disposed of" in future and added that it "must never be disposed of in the same way as routine household waste".

In a statement, the trust said it shared the ICO's concerns on the "seriousness of these incidents".

It said: "As a result we have already implemented several suggestions including changing the delivery area for notes at one of the sites."

Unacceptable actions

The statement added that "cases like this are exceptionally rare and for the overwhelming majority of patients their information is completely safe".

The trust's chief executive officer Andrew Hardy has agreed to review the relevant policies, train staff in the updated guidelines and procedures and routinely monitor compliance.

Dr Mike Smith from the Patients Association said the two cases were "unacceptable".

He said: "It's all very well the ICO now giving them a warning but why didn't they do that last time and why wasn't the training put in then.

"Patients' records are private things that you certainly don't take outside the hospital."

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