Information Commissioner slams two more NHS organisations

Two more NHS organisations have been slammed by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) today for data breaches.


Two more NHS organisations have been slammed by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) today for data breaches.

NHS Stoke-on-Trent and Basingstoke and North Hampshire NHS Foundation Trust are the latest NHS bodies found to have breached the Data Protection Act (DPA).

One on four data breaches reported to the ICO involves the health service, the data watchdog said, adding that it “remains highly concerned that data breaches involving people’s personal information are continuing to occur in NHS organisations”.

Chief executives at the two organisations have now signed formal undertakings outlining how they will now process personal information in line with the DPA.

Mick Gorrill, Head of Enforcement at the ICO, said: “Everyone makes mistakes, but regrettably there are far too many within the NHS. Health bodies must implement the appropriate procedures when storing and transferring patients’ sensitive personal information.

“We have taken a number of steps to explain the importance of personal data to NHS bodies and help them comply with the law. We will continue to do so.”

The latest cases involve some 2,000 paper physiotherapy records that were not filed within NHS Stoke-on-Trent’s archive system and may have accidentally been destroyed or misfiled.

At Basingstoke and North Hampshire NHS Trust an Excel spreadsheet, containing 917 patients’ pathology results, was emailed via an unsecure address to another department.

The spreadsheet was not password protected and the receiving department had no business need to have access to the excessive amount of clinical records.

The organisations will boost security measures make all staff aware of the organisations’ policies for the retention and use of personal data and provide training on how to follow those policies.

NHS Stoke-on-Trent will also apply physical security measures in respect of paper medical records, particularly when they are in transit.

Basingstoke and North Hampshire NHS Trust has undertaken to only extract and transfer the minimum amount of personal information necessary for any processing requirement. It will immediately encrypt all portable and mobile devices used to store and transmit personal data.

The ICO said it could not levy a fine for these latest data breaches and had made full use of the powers it currently holds in dealing with these cases.

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