Page last updated at 14:23 GMT, Friday, 6 November 2009

Apology as patients' details lost

St Peter's hospital
The trust said one third of staff had so far undergone training

A hospital trust in Surrey has apologised and banned the use of unencrypted memory sticks after 76 patients' personal details were lost.

The information was contained on three data sticks lost by Ashford and St Peter's Hospitals NHS Trust.

Spokesman Robin Gammon said the trust did not know what had happened to the information but said it believed it was stolen from hospital premises.

Letters were sent to each patient affected and a helpline was set up.

The trust also wrote to each patient's GP.

The information sticks contained unencrypted details about the patients copied from original files.

Apologised first

Mr Gammon said the original records were intact, and patient care had not been affected following the loss in June.

The helpline set up after patients were sent letters received 17 calls.

One third of the hospital staff have so far received extra data protection training, with the remainder expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Mr Gammon said the first thing the trust did was apologise to patients.

"The biggest worry, which members of the public are generally aware of, is that if information got into the wrong hands it could be used for identity theft," he said.

"We have taken every step to investigate this loss and understand what happened and make changes.

"The main thing is to ensure that all the staff are aware of their responsibilities and act accordingly."

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