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Increase in number of thefts from NHS hospitals

14 December 2009

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The NHS has revealed that an increasing number of thieves have been targeting hospitals, causing unnecessary expense and delaying patients’ treatment.

Items including a mobile scanner, ambulance satellite navigation systems and laughing gas have been taken, as well as patients’ belongings.

Security chiefs described the thefts as a “real problem”, and have asked trusts to detail any thefts in their area.

In the past five years, there have been 57 “high-value claims”, which cost more than £20,000. These include a mobile scanner stolen from Corby, Northants, which delayed the treatment of around 70 patients.

Torbay Hospital in Devon has had laughing gas, a potentially hazardous material, stolen twice, totalling more than 100,000 litres. And in Worcestershire Royal Hospital, money and photographs were stolen from a pensioner in a hospital bed.

Jill Abethell, who is overseeing the investigation for the NHS Security Management Service, told the BBC: “I think like any organisation open to the public there is that risk something can be stolen.

“We want to find out more so we can look to see if measures can be taken to protect property.”

Copyright Press Association 2009