40,000 patient forms are lost

Sue Noyes, chief executive of East Midlands Ambulance Service
Sue Noyes, chief executive of East Midlands Ambulance Service

Private records of more than 40,000 patients have been lost by the ambulance service which serves Mansfield and Ashfield.

A data cartridge containing just under 42,000 electronic copies of scanned handwritten Patient Report Forms has gone missing from the headquarters of the East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) in Nottingham.

The scans contain confidential details of patients attended to by paramedics from September to November 2012, including names, addresses, contact numbers and details of medical conditions.

Sue Noyes, East Midlands Ambulance Service Chief Executive 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 this week.”

She said the cartridge was small and there was a possibility that it was still on the premises at the Beechdale divisional headquarters in Nottingham.

As the Chad went to press on Tuesday, staff were conducting a thorough search of the building.

The data can only be read via specific hardware on the premises which is obsolete and no longer in production.

It was unlikely that the information stored on the missing cartridge could be viewed by anyone outside of the organisation.

She added: “The incident has been reported to the Information Commissioner, 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.”

People who received an ambulance response during September 2012 to November 2012, and who had their details recorded in handwriting on a paper Patient Report Form, can speak to EMAS via telephone 0115 884 5055 (8am to 8pm) if they have any concerns.

Sue Noyes added: “We have taken a proactive approach to report this because we are an open and transparent service and we know it is our duty to inform people when such an incident occurs.”