A data loss has been reported in Huddersfield, after a laptop containing the details of as many as 1,500 patients was stolen from a hospital. Security discussions are ongoing to determine whether or not, data loss incident puts patients at risk.
The confidential records were stolen when a computer used in conjunction with a scanning machine was taken from Calderdale Royal Hospital in December.Hundreds of Huddersfield residents would have had their details kept on the laptop.
At a meeting of Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust’s board of directors last week, Medical Director Yvette Oade said discussions were ongoing with manufacturers as to whether data could be encrypted to prevent information being accessed if such an event occurred again.
She said: “They wanted us to put software on to the computers to create the encryption but the information service was anxious not to disturb the functioning of the equipment.
“The patients were all written to and a number of queries were raised, we responded quickly and they appeared to be reassured.”
The letter received by patients described the computer which formed part of the Electromyography (EMG) machine.
It read : “You had tests on this machine which does contain some personal information, names, dates of birth and addresses.”
One reader who contacted the Examiner said the quick action highlighting the theft and the implications for patients had made a difference.
She said: “I do appreciate being told that it took place and that it hasn’t been covered up, but I’m a bit of a technophobe and I’m not exactly clear on what the loss of this kind of information would mean to me.
“They’ve said there were passwords on the computer so there has been some kind of security on the machine, and they’ve stepped it up in the hospital.
“But it’s not the kind of letter you expect however and I think some people will be quite concerned.”
At the time of the theft police were informed and directors said they had stepped up security.