Beds, Herts & Bucks

Patients' details lost on train by Hertfordshire doctor

East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust has been found in breach of data protection after a doctor lost a memory stick on a train.

The junior doctor had recorded details of patients' conditions and medication on the device and was meant to hand it over to the next doctor on shift.

But the doctor forgot and lost the unencrypted device on the way home.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) said NHS trusts should not risk data breaches.

The doctor informed the trust immediately after discovering the loss and an investigation was conducted.

'Highest security measures'

The ICO said inquiries revealed the junior doctor had not been aware of the trust's data protection policies and did not have access to e-mail to receive policy reminders and updates.

It was also discovered that the trust's policies on the use of personal USB sticks were not clear and no technical measures were in place to prevent misuse of portable devices, an ICO statement said.

Mick Gorrill, head of enforcement at the ICO, said: "Storing sensitive personal data on unencrypted data sticks is a risk trusts should not be willing to take.

"If it is vital to store information for handover, this must be done with the highest security measures in place."

Chief Executive of East & North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, Nick Carver, has agreed to take a series of steps to ensure that the trust's policy on the use of portable devices is clear and communicated to all staff, the ICO said.

In a statement the trust said: "The ICO report states that the junior doctor did not have access to our email system.

"In fact, all Trust staff have access to our email and intranet, but this particular individual chose not to use them.

"We are now implementing the learning from our investigation and have shared in it full with the ICO, who are satisfied with our actions."

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