Page last updated at 11:25 GMT, Friday, 11 July 2008 12:25 UK

Patient files found 'scattered'

Eleanor Bradford and Gary Whittle at Law Hospital
Eleanor Bradford and amateur photographer Gary Whittle found X-rays marked with patients' names at the Law Hospital in Carluke

By Eleanor Bradford
Health correspondent, BBC Scotland

On Thursday evening I met amateur photographer Gary Whittle at a lay-by on the A73.

We had agreed to meet after he contacted the BBC Scotland news website offering photographs of Law Hospital.

The photographs of the derelict wartime huts were incredibly atmospheric, but among them were images of patient X-rays lying on the floor.

A quick search of the internet revealed other shots by other photographers: X-rays, shelves apparently stacked full of personal records and, incredibly, a box full of bones.

I had to see this for myself to assess how serious the situation might be.

When it comes to confidentiality, personal medical records are some of the most protected documents

Entry to the site was, as Gary had said, easy. There's no fence, and no signs to tell us to keep out.

After a short walk through some long grass we were inside one of the buildings.

It's obviously been derelict for some time - the last patients left here in 2001 - and we're certainly not the first visitors.

There's graffiti on the walls and syringes on the floor - whether they were left by the NHS or passing drug users, we don't know.

It's not long before we find what we're looking for. Three X-rays belonging to someone called 'Hayley' are on the floor.


Eleanor Bradford inside the hospital with Gary Whittle

I'm not revealing her second name but it's clearly visible. The X-rays are of her head.

In the next room is a bundle of papers clearly marked "confidential information" and in another room is a black hard-backed book with a handwritten list of names. It seems to be some kind of record of admissions.

Why is this important? When it comes to confidentiality, personal medical records are some of the most protected documents.

They're protected by law, and millions of pounds have been spent trying to find an IT system for the NHS which guarantees security.

Yet here we have someone's personal X-rays lying on the floor. Also, it's rare for the NHS to make two copies of an X-ray.

If these are Hayley's original scans, what happens if she has another injury and the medic treating her needs to see her medical history?

In all, Gary and I are in the hospital for more than an hour.

We're making quite a racket, stepping on broken glass and metal panels which litter the floor, but nobody hears us and no-one seems to be patrolling the area.

We leave all the documents as we found them and leave the site unnoticed.

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