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NHS “must re-examine the way it deals with personal data”

27 November 2008

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The NHS must “fundamentally re-examine” the way it deals with personal data, the Liberal Democrats have said.

The party has issued a five-point information-security plan after unveiling a dossier of cases of lost and stolen health information.

These include incidents of private patient notes being left in public places or deserted buildings, and dumped in bins and skips.

One loss was so serious that 25 patients were visited by police and NHS managers, while another involved the theft of an entire GP practice IT system, said health spokesman Norman Lamb.

He said: “These reports show utterly shocking lapses in security. Patients have a right to expect their personal information will be treated with the utmost care.

“There must be a fundamental re-examination of how the NHS deals with personal data. It should regard lapses of standards of care as potential serious misconduct.”

He has written to Health Secretary Alan Johnson urging him to accept the Lib Dems’ plan, including minimum data protection standards, educating all NHS staff about their responsibilities and scrapping the planned National Patient Database.

Patient records should not be stored on mobile devices unless it is unavoidable, and all mobile data devices should be protected with appropriate security controls, he said.

Copyright © Press Association 2008

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