Christmas bells did not chime merrily in the year 2007 when the government admitted that medical records of hundreds of thousands of patients have gone missing from nine NHS trusts.
That admission was roused by an investigation into data protection in all aspects of public life stimulated by the loss of 25 million child benefit records by HM Revenue and Customs.
A series of breaches of security took place in health trusts around UK after the afore mentioned event. An NHS employee lost a computer memory `stick' holding the personal medical information of about 4,000 Stockport NHS patients. The memory stick clipped on a cord around her neck was lost as she walked to her car. The whole event was kept secret.
These revelations were followed by a similar security breach at Oldham PCT involving `sensitive' notes of 145 patients. The Oldham Primary Care Trust admitted the fact that two data sticks containing summaries of nursing care assessments of 148 clients have been reported missing. In both the cases patients were not told about the data loss. It is no more a secret now!
Trust chief executive Richard Popplewell said: "Immediate steps were taken to search for the device by retracing the path of the staff member."
Richard added that a full and thorough investigation had been launched and current policies are strictly reviewed relating to data storage. He also said that a balance had to be drawn between being open with patients and also avoiding upsetting them."
Richard Popplewell assured that all the necessary steps are taken to ensure that data loss does not occur again."