Page last updated at 14:40 GMT, Wednesday, 18 June 2008 15:40 UK

Six laptops stolen from hospital

Six laptops containing information about 20,000 patients have been stolen from a south London hospital.

The computers were taken from a locked cabinet in a secure room at St George's Hospital in Tooting, in June.

Patient information kept on the laptops includes brief medical notes, names, dates of birth and postcodes.

The hospital accepts the data should not have been stored on portable computers and has written to every patient to apologise.

Police have launched an investigation and the St George's Healthcare NHS Trust has begun an internal inquiry into the theft.

'Determined thief

The trust said the data was only stored on laptops as a temporary measure because of a problem with the computer network.

It added all the information on the laptops was password protected and personal information, such as postcodes, were hidden - although the patient's name and hospital number was shown.

The data has not been lost and the theft will not affect any treatments or appointments, the trust said.

Chief Executive David Astley said: "We offer all our patients our sincere apologies for putting their confidential information at risk, although we could not anticipate a determined thief who was prepared to force open a filing cabinet and locked drawers to get to the laptops.

"We believe the data will almost certainly be wiped by the thief so he can get 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."

He said a helpline has been set up which has been included in the letters to the affected patients.

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Daily Mail Personal details of thousands of patients stolen from hospital - 1 hr ago
This is Local London WANDSWORTH: Children's info lost in hospital data theft - 2 hrs ago
This is Hertfordshire WANDSWORTH: Thieves steal 20,000 patients' personal info - 11 hrs ago
Wandsworth Guardian Update: Children's info lost in hospital data theft - 14 hrs ago
Daily Star Laptops stolen from city hospital - 15 hrs ago

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