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NHS lose over 1,500 patient files over last few years

September 5, 2019 8:00 AM
By Nick Machnik-Foster

NHS lose over 1,500 patient files over last few years

  • Wolverhampton hospital shock admission that lost files are 'not recorded' in incident systems
  • Lib Dems urge data watchdog probe into lost patient files
  • Hundreds of patients files lost and never found by the NHS
  • Party say how would trust bosses feel if their case file went missing after surgery or a trip to the Sexual Health clinic?

Shock figures released today show that over 1,500 vital patient documents were either lost or stolen over the last few years according to a damning investigation by Wolverhampton Liberal Democrats.

Data compiled by Wolverhampton Liberal Democrats found 1,519 instances of stolen or missing documents from trusts around the Black Country- prompting major concerns about patient data security.

In Wolverhampton 121 cases of patients files being lost or stolen and shockingly the trust couldn't tell the Liberal Democrats if the files had been found, as they said that 'whether a record has been lost or found is not recorded on the incident management system'.

The party have urged the Information Commissioner open an official probe into Wolverhampton NHS Trusts data protection practices.

In their reply the trust said 4 of the files lost or stolen were from Accident and Emergency, 12 in General Surgery, 11 cases of lost patient files were from Therapies and Dietetic Services, 10 were lost in the cardiac unit, 9 in Trauma & Orthopaedics, 9 from Paediatrics, 8 from Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 5 in the Community Adult Services department, a file was lost in the sexual health clinic and a file from urology. A further 5 were lost, the hospital admitted, by external organisations.

The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust admitted they had lost a colossal 976 files over the last five years. 545 files were lost and had not been found. The trust also admitted that patients would only be informed of the loss if 'this would affect their attendance or admission.'

Walsall Healthcare admitted the loss of 418 patient files over the last few years. Again, when asked 'how many patient files and/or records have gone missing, and subsequently found?' they admitted that 'This data is not recorded.'

They did admit, in response to the party that 12 files were lost from Accident & Emergency, one from cancer services, 2 from breast services and screening, 23 from dental services, 6 from gynaecology, 113 from the hospital records department and 60 from Ophthalmology, 22 from paediatrics and 39 from outpatients. 3 were shockingly stolen from operating theatres.

Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust stated they had not lost any patient files over the period. The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust had four cases of lost files. They stated that three sets of notes were not technically lost, they had misfiled on the system. One set had been merged into another set but not updated on the system. All were accounted for.

This happened twice in General Medicine and in General Surgery and the Radiotherapy departments. In two cases patients were contacted to let them know about the loss.

The data released to party under the Freedom of Information act paints a 'damning picture' of some staff who are treating vital personal information carelessly.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat campaigner Ian Jenkins said:

"Our hospitals handle some of the most sensitive personal data, and patients have the right to expect that information will be looked after. This research paints a damning picture.

"Of course, NHS staff are pushed the brink and the vast majority go above and beyond the call of duty, but how can trust bosses allow files to be lost but not even log what happens to them? That is utterly shocking and is frankly a dangerously caviller attitude to people's medical records.

"The watchdog needs to audit how our most private data is some cases is being treated.

"How would a trust boss feel if their case file went missing after surgery or a trip to the Sexual Health clinic and then they found out that there is no process in place to track if it had been found?"