Page last updated at 12:59 GMT, Thursday, 22 May 2008 13:59 UK

Probe into dumped health records

Documents (generic) (Picture: Eye Wire)
The documents contained patients' names and medications

The Scottish Government has launched an inquiry into how patient information was left at an abandoned hospital.

The documents at Strathmartine Hospital on the outskirts of Dundee included details about a girl's adoption and a child with foetal alcohol syndrome.

During question time at Holyrood, Scottish Lib Dem leader Nicol Stephen called for Public Health Minister Shona Robison to quit over the row.

NHS Tayside has admitted responsibility for the situation.

A concerned resident who found the details told the health board about it more than a year ago and Ms Robison, MSP for Dundee East, was informed several months ago.

Ms Robison said she had been wrongly assured by NHS Tayside - whose chairman Sandy Watson apologised to her for the situation - that the problem was being dealt with.

The health board have put their hands up and acknowledged the serious situation and their responsibility for it
Alex Salmond
First Minister

But, speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Nicol Stephen accused her of not taking effective action.

Calling for her resignation, he said: "Why didn't she stop to think about the piles of data that she knew about, discarded in an old hospital a short walk from her own constituency office?

"This SNP minister knew personal data was strewn across corridors and got nothing done. Will she now accept responsibility and do the honourable thing?"

Dismissing the calls, the first minister said Ms Robison had twice notified NHS Tayside of the situation and pointed out that action was being taken to avoid a repeat.

Utmost urgency

"The health board have put their hands up and acknowledged the serious situation and their responsibility for it," he added.

The Scottish Government health directorate has launched an investigation into the matter.

NHS Scotland chief executive Dr Kevin Woods has asked NHS Tayside for a detailed explanation about how the situation came about, given that Strathmartine had been in a prolonged, 20-year shutdown period.

A Scottish Government spokesman added: "Health boards - not the health minister - are responsible for ensuring patient records are properly looked after."

NHS Tayside assistant chief executive Danny McLaren said the situation should never have arisen, adding: "It is completely unacceptable and we apologise unreservedly."

Mr McLaren said work was under way to clear the documents from the site as a matter of utmost urgency.

Despite the explanation, Labour spokeswoman Margaret Curran said: "The minister appears to be guilty of a dereliction of duty in this matter."


SEE ALSO
'Removed patients' to be treated
31 Jan 08 |  Tayside and Central

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