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NHS under fire over repeated data security breaches

30 October 2008

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The NHS has come under fire for “sloppy” information handling after a new report revealed there have been 75 breaches of data security rules over the last year.

The study shows the NHS is second only to the entire private sector for a track record of losing computers, misplaced files and missing data.

Of the 75 breaches, 27 were lost computers, 14 were incidents of files going missing and 18 involved missing removable media devices such as memory sticks.

Researchers also revealed data was “inappropriately disclosed” on five occasions, a website security breach, an email error and two postal mistakes.

In the private sector, there were a total of 80 breaches, which included 28 in central government, 26 in local government and 47 in other public sector bodies.

Information commissioner Richard Thomas said reports of security breaches had “soared” following the high profile loss of 25 million child benefit records last year.

He added: “It is alarming that despite high-profile data losses, the threat of enforcement action, a plethora of reports on data handling and clear guidance, the flow of data breaches and sloppy information handling continues.”

Mr Thomas said responsibility for data breaches should lie with chief executives.

Copyright © PA Business 2008

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