Page last updated at 11:52 GMT, Thursday, 4 February 2010

5,400 medical files stolen in Downpatrick break-in

surgery fire
The surgery was damaged by two fires last November

Medical records of 5,400 patients have been stolen from a doctors' surgery in Downpatrick.

The break-in happened at the surgery of Drs Hannah and McGoldrick at Pound Lane over the Christmas period.

They were in two computer hard disk drives and several DVDs containing back-up copies of the records.

The Health and Social Care Board said security measures on the disks and the fact the DVDs were encrypted, made it unlikely the files could be accessed.

The practice and the board have been working since the break-in to establish whether the stolen information could be retrieved or recovered from other sources. However, they said this has not proved possible.

The practice contacted patients by letter, to advise them of the steps being taken and how they can help in having their records restored as soon as possible.

It has also been working with other health care providers in the Downpatrick area, including pharmacists, to ensure that prescriptions continue to be dispensed as normal.

Police are investigating the theft of the records.

On 9 November last year, thousands of patient files at the same practice were damaged in a fire.

There was another fire at the surgery just over a week later.

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