East Midlands Ambulance Service loses 42,000 records

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The ambulance service that covers Northamptonshire has lost thousands of patients’ records.

East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) has informed the Information Commission, an independent body that promotes openness by public bodies, about the incident after discovering a cartridge containing more than 40,000 copies of patients’ records had gone missing.

EMAS chief executive Sue Noyes said: “We take our responsibility for the security and confidentiality of the information we record and store very seriously, and express sincere apologies for a patient data loss incident which we have reported to the Information Commissioner.

“A data cartridge containing just under 42,000 electronic copies of scanned handwritten Patient Report Forms, which we believe are from September 2012 to November 2012, has gone missing from our Beechdale divisional headquarters in Nottingham.

“The cartridge is small and there is a possibility that it is still on our premises; we are conducting a thorough search of the building.

“We are certain the data can only be read via specific hardware which we have in our premises, and which is no longer in production – it is obsolete. Therefore, it is unlikely that the information stored on the missing cartridge can be viewed by anyone outside of the organisation.

“The incident has been reported to the Information Commissioner, to NHS organisations who monitor and regulate our service and to Nottinghamshire Police.

“It is extremely unfortunate that this incident has occurred, particularly as during this financial year EMAS is replacing the current computerised storage system to strengthen security arrangements.”

She added that the service’s own investigation led by external experts and subsequent independent investigations will help them identify and understand what has happened, how and why, and to take further action to prevent it from happening again.

Mrs Noyes said: “It would be wrong to pre-empt investigation findings, however, a number of actions have already been taken to strengthen the data retrieval process at EMAS, including reinforcing the resonsibility of all colleagues to protect patient data.”

People who called an ambulance during September 2012 and November 2012, and who had their details recorded in handwriting on a Patient Report Form and are worried their data may be affected, can call EMAS on 0115 8845055 between 8am and 8pm.