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Monday, 22 December 2014

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Cumbrian hospitals trust starts inquiry after patients' details 'left on train'

A probe has been launched after patients at north Cumbria’s hospitals were told some of their information had been lost on a train.

A number of patients this week received letters informing them that personal details have gone missing.

It is not known how many people are affected or the exact nature of the information, but it is believed that some of it relates to cancer patients.

North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Whitehaven’s West Cumberland Hospital and Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary, confirmed that an investigation is underway.

A spokeswoman said: “The trust is carrying out a full and detailed investigation and is fully communicating with the patients concerned.”

However she would not give any further comment about the type of information, how it was lost, whether it was in hard copy format or on a computer, how many patients were affected, exactly when it happened, or whether it involved patients from one or both of the hospital sites.

One person from the Cockermouth area contacted the News & Star to say a relative had received a letter from the trust’s medical director Mike Walker this week. It explained that a record – containing their name and date of birth but no information about their treatment – had been mislaid on a train in the Midlands.

Another woman posted a comment on the News & Star website saying: “I have just had a letter to say my personal details, along with other ladies’, have been lost by a consultant on a train. Can it get much worse?”

The trust confirmed that it has informed the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) about the incident.

A spokesman for the ICO – an independent authority that monitors data privacy rights – said they are now investigating the incident.

“We have recently been made aware of a possible data breach which may involve North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust.

“We will be making enquiries into the circumstances of the alleged breach of the Data Protection Act before deciding what action, if any, needs to be taken,” he said.

NHS Cumbria, the county’s primary care trust, has also been informed.

A spokeswoman said: “We are aware that there has been a data loss by a member of staff at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust.

“This has been reported to us via the correct reporting procedure and the Information Commissioner has also been informed. The correct course of actions is being followed and the patients concerned are being contacted. We would not be informed about the specific details of the information lost.”

The police have not been informed.

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