20.08.18

NHS trusts lost almost 10,000 patient records last year

Almost 10,000 vital patient documents were either lost or stolen from 68 hospitals last year, according to a damning new report.

Data compiled by thinktank Parliament Street found 9,132 instances of stolen or missing documents from trusts around the UK— prompting major concerns about patient data security.

University Hospital Birmingham reportedly had the highest number of incidents of ‘unavailable’ patient records in the most recent financial year with 3,179 cases.

Bolton NHS Trust came second, with 2,163 reported cases of unavailable documents, and University Hospital Bristol followed with 1,105 instances of unavailable data.

Out of the 68 hospital trusts, a staggering 16% reported that there were no cases of lost or stolen patient data, with many reporting they still had missing records.

New health secretary Matt Hancock claimed last month that the NHS needed to use more apps to improve patient service— however he noted that patient security will need to be tightened up as the NHS moves further towards patient-controlled technology in healthcare.

Through the use of Freedom of Information (FoI) requests, the thinktank noted that the massive number of unavailable or lost documents also includes “many incidents” where the files were eventually located.

However, the revelations indicate the potential breach of patient security in the NHS— the thinktank also found that 94% of trusts continue to use handwritten notes as a method documentation.

Last month a major data breach led to 150,000 patients’ confidential data was used without consent, leading to major concerns with the NHS’s handling of patient information. Last week NHS England blocked plans for a ‘GP at Hand’ app, citing fears for patient safety.

A University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust spokesperson said: “We take the matter of clinical record keeping very seriously and want to reassure our patients that we do not sell or share any patient information or records as this is strictly forbidden.

“Records are reported missing or lost when they are not in the place they were last recorded as being sent to. A barcode system enables colleagues to log records in and out of locations and track them efficiently around the trust. However, records are sometimes moved within our hospitals before this information is recorded. Therefore at the time of reporting these figures, they will be marked as missing or lost but are later located.

“The trust is currently in the process of scanning millions of patient notes and records to be stored digitally. This is of huge benefit to our patients and colleagues, as records will be accessible immediately without the need for hardcopies to be transported within our site.”

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Image credit: woolzian

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