Patient furious over computer theft

AN Ipswich patient has today spoken of her worries after a laptop with confidential medical data was stolen.

AN Ipswich patient has today spoken of her worries after a laptop with confidential medical data was stolen.

The woman, who did not want to be named, had been receiving regular treatment at Colchester Hospital for the past four years and was horrified when the hospital sent her a letter telling her about the theft of the computer from a senior manager's car.

The 33-year-old, who moved to Ipswich a year ago, said: “There is a lot of information about me on there; my name, address, patient number.

“I don't think they should have all that information on a laptop.

“I'm annoyed that this could happen and worried about what might happen with my details.”

The data on the laptop, which was taken in Scotland on June 18, was not encrypted, and contained the details of 21,000 patients.

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Since the security breach was discovered a senior manager at the hospital has been suspended and a police investigation has been launched.

Colchester Hospital's chief executive, Peter Murphy, said: “The trust offers all affected patients its sincere apologies for putting their confidential information at risk.

“The computer was password-protected and only authorised staff with the correct password could access the data. But as the data was not encrypted there is a very small chance that patient details can be accessed.

“We believe the data will almost certainly be wiped by the thief for a quick sale. Nonetheless, we owe it to our patients to protect their personal information and we have reminded our staff not to store this kind of data on laptops in the future.

“We have also set up a helpline for patients to ring for further information and the number is on the letter sent to the patients affected. If patients have not received this letter, their details are not on the lists stolen.”

Have you been affected by a security breach? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.