Page last updated at 10:22 GMT, Friday, 30 January 2009

Hospital sorry over stolen laptop

Great Ormond Street Hospital
The laptop was taken from the audiology department

A leading children's hospital has apologised after a laptop containing information on hundreds of young patients was stolen.

The computer was taken last Friday from a secure area at Great Ormond Street Hospital (Gosh) in central London.

It had information on 458 patients, including names and dates of birth.

The hospital spokesman said that as no contact details were stolen it is "unlikely the information could be used by anyone with malign intent".

The spokeswoman said an internal investigation was taking place but "at present no member of staff has been suspended".

We must apologise to the families for any anxiety this will cause
Gosh NHS Trust chief executive Dr Jane Collins

The matter was reported to the information commissioner and to the Metropolitan Police

Gosh NHS Trust chief executive Dr Jane Collins said: "We must apologise to the families for any anxiety this will cause.

"Patient confidentiality is very important to us and we have acted quickly to minimise the damage done.

"The Trust has provided the facility for all departments to encrypt patient data through encrypted USB sticks, and is rolling out encryption for laptops. This laptop had not yet been encrypted as part of the rolling programme."

The laptop was taken from the secure area of the audiology department.

Information on the patients, who may suffer from deafness, hearing loss and loss of balance, included their patient identity numbers and an audiology graph.

The spokeswoman said the graph could only be read by an expert and added that the laptop was password- protected.

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