Health chiefs are fined after patient files were left in an abandoned building in the United Kingdom

04 June 2013

NHS bosses have been fined £100,000 after patient files including details of miscarriages, information on vulnerable children and a police report of a child’s death were left in a clinic when it closed.

The data blunder occurred at a health centre in Stockport after it shut and the building was sold to new owners.

The documents were returned to the now-defunct Stockport Primary Care Trust, which had owned the facility.

But the M.E.N understands that the affected patients were not told about the mislaid documents.

The clinic where the files were found closed in 2010 and the information – including more than 100,000 paper medical records and 15,000 staff files – was uncovered by the new owners when they bought the site in 2011.

The find was reported to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in Wilmslow, which said the data haul also included work diaries, letters and referral forms.

But a spokesman for the ICO refused to reveal the name of the clinic or give details of the patients concerned.

The ICO’s investigation revealed two earlier incidents where confidential and highly sensitive personal data had been left behind in secure buildings owned by the trust.

Stockport PCT was dissolved in March this year under a shake-up of the NHS. Its legal responsibilities passed to NHS England. The fine, which will also pass to NHS England, must be paid by July 3 or appealed by that date.

David Smith, deputy commissioner and director of data protection, said: “The highly sensitive nature of the documents left behind makes this mistake inexcusable, and there can be no doubt that the penalty we’ve served is both necessary and appropriate.”

A spokesman for NHS England said: “We are aware of a communication from the ICO. We are currently looking into this matter. Obviously the confidentiality of patient information is a very important issue and one we take very seriously. The organisation that this refers to no longer exists.”

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