East Surrey Hospital loses confidential patient records

A hospital has admitted losing a memory stick containing the confidential medical details of 800 patients.

The unencrypted device went missing from the East Surrey Hospital, run by Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, in 2010 and has never been found.

Details of patients names and operations were on the stick.

The Redhill hospital has been warned by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) that any repeat of the action may result in formal regulatory action.

The loss, in September 2010, came to light in the NHS trust's annual report.

Michael Wilson, chief executive of the trust, said there had been no reports of the stick being found by a third party.

He said when the stick was lost it was the trust's policy that all staff should use encrypted memory sticks when transferring patient data.

Further training

"It is regrettable that this didn't happen on this occasion and since then we have put in place new measures that mean that now only encrypted memory sticks can be used with trust computers," he said.

He added the trust had contacted the ICO itself to receive advice shortly after the memory stick was lost.

A spokesman for the ICO said the hospital had subsequently been warned that the trust's policy covering personal data must be followed.

"The trust was also warned that any repetition of such an incident may result in formal regulatory action," he said.

According to the trust, the member of staff who lost the stick has been taken through disciplinary procedures and has received further training.

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