Stolen NHS laptop contains payroll data on 10,000 staff

A laptop computer holding personal and financial information on 10,000 NHS staff has been stolen from a hospital in Cornwall.

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A laptop computer holding personal and financial information on 10,000 NHS staff has been stolen from a hospital in Cornwall.

The machine containing payroll data - including names, addresses and bank details – was stolen from the Royal Cornwall Hospitals trust, which hosts the payroll for NHS staff across the county.

The data is usually held on a server, but had been downloaded to the laptop for “a specific piece of work”, a spokesperson for the trust said. “From time to time information is downloaded to enable specific pieces of analysis to be done.”

No patient information was stored on the computer, she added.

The laptop was stolen from locked and alarmed premises in Truro, which were forcibly entered during the night on Monday 30 April or in the early hours of Tuesday 1 May.

The spokesperson said the laptop was password protected but was unable to say if it was protected by any other measures.

The trust believed the theft was “opportunistic and not for the purpose obtaining the information stored on the computer”, but had advised staff to contact their banks and to consider registration with a fraud prevention service, the spokesperson added.

“Clearly, we are very sorry for any inconvenience or anxiety this may have caused staff.”

The trust has launched an internal inquiry into the data security breach. The theft of the laptop is also being investigated by police.

In March, a laptop containing names, addresses and dates of birth of 11,500 children was stolen from the offices of Nottinghamshire Teaching primary care trust. The machine was later recovered by police.

Last month the Department of Health was forced to apologise after hundreds of doctors’ personal details – including home addresses, phone numbers, sexual orientation and previous convictions – were uploaded to the NHS’s online application system for specialist medical training posts. The information was available online for several hours. The breach is now being investigated by the information commissioner.

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