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Information Commissioner Issues Warning to NHS Over Patient Records

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The Information Commissioner Christopher Graham has issued a stark warning over the security of patient records and data, after a range of incidents resulting in lost confidential data.

The Chief Executive of the NHS, Sir David Nicholson, has been called to a meeting with Mr Graham to focus on finding ways to eradicate the problem. Mr Graham has already stated that fines of as much as half a million pounds will be imposed on hospitals and trusts that lose patient information.

Christopher Graham has said that “the health service holds some of the most sensitive personal information of any sector in the UK.” He clearly wants to be sure that recent breaches of the Data Protection Act are not repeated. Examples of such breaches include Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals faxing personal data to the wrong people. Another example came from Ipswich Hospital when 29 patient records were lost by an employee who took them home.

The Information Commissioner conceded that records were being accessed all the time and that human error would always account for a small number of problems with lost or misplaced data. But as he said in an interview with The Independent newspaper recently, he believes that “the security of data remains a systemic problem .”

He wants much higher fines to point to the seriousness of such breaches of the Data Protection Act, and is currently investigating a number of incidents within the NHS regarding data loss.

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