GP surgery loses thousands of unencrypted patient records

A GP surgery in London has lost the details of 7,000 patients after burglars stole an external hard drive and backup tapes.

The hard drive contained unencrypted files with sensitive information including names, illnesses and medical histories of the patients, it was reported. The backup tapes, containing more of the same information, were encrypted.

Burglars broke into a locked safe in Nightingale Practice in Lower Clapton, London, stored in the practice manager’s locked office, the Hackney Gazette reported.

NHS City and Hackney, the local trust, confirmed the reports. Tim Wilson, IT head, said: “The Trust is committed to ensuring that patient information is secure and has had encryption running on the server back-up devices on all GP practices in Hackney since January.”

All unencrypted backup tapes in the trust’s area have now been destroyed.

The Information Commissioner’s Office earlier this month ordered the NHS to tighten data security procedures. In the last six months, it has taken action against 14 NHS organisations over data losses.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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