A senior hospital manager from the Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust has been suspended after his laptop which contained classified details of 21,000 patients was robbed from his parked car in Edinburgh on June 18th.. The computer which contained private details of patients in unencrypted form is password protected.
Peter Murphy, chief executive of the trust, was extremely apologetic and has issued a letter to the affected patients. He agreed that patient data should not have been stored the way it was, in unencrypted form. Fortunately, since the computer is password protected, only authorized staff will be allowed access.
He said, "We are holding an investigation into how this incident occurred and its consequences and have suspended the member of staff involved until the investigation concludes. Patients and the public should be reassured that the Trust takes security and patient confidentiality very seriously."
Brian Loring, 71, who is one of the affected patients called this as a "massive breach of trust". He said, "I feel very, very uncomfortable and vulnerable that a thief has my personal details in his hands. It would be very easy to commit identity fraud with the information they have. What I don't understand is why the information was on a laptop in the first place. It is stored on the hospital mainframe - which could have been accessed remotely. It is shameful the information wasn't encrypted. It's a flagrant disregard of my privacy - a massive breach of trust."
A trust spokesman confirmed that personal data of patients are intact in the hospital's computer, assuring patients that what is in the laptop are only copies of the information.