Page last updated at 14:24 GMT, Friday, 3 October 2008 15:24 UK

NHS records left despite warnings

Documents (generic) (Picture: Eye Wire)
Information about a girl's adoption were among the documents found

Health chiefs failed to completely clear a former hospital of patient information despite repeated warnings, an official report has found.

NHS Tayside only removed all the documents from Strathmartine, on the outskirts of Dundee, after the issue was highlighted in the media.

The report states that the health board had the opportunity to deal with the issue in 2003, 2005 and 2007.

NHS Tayside said it had learned many lessons from what had happened.

Strathmartine Hospital was decommissioned in stages from the mid to late 1980s and closed completely in 2003.

Following a break-in in 2005, an NHS worker checking the site reported that items including equipment, pictures of patients, school health records, other patient information and staff payroll details were found in wards which had already been cleared.

Those items were removed but the issue of materials turning up in areas which had supposedly been cleared was raised with managers.

Then in January 2007, a member of the public informed NHS Tayside that they had found patient information at various sites within Strathmartine.

Items were again removed, but the same member of the public found further documents in November.

The situation at Strathmartine was unacceptable and we have learned many lessons
NHS Tayside statement

Between December 2007 and February 2008, Dundee East MSP and Health Minister Shona Robison contacted the board and was given the reassurance that the matter was being dealt with.

However, in May the issue hit the media when further patient information was found - including details about a girl's adoption and a youngster with foetal alcohol syndrome.

The site was then cleared of all patient documents in June.

The NHS Quality Improvement Scotland report recognises that from January 2007 onwards issues with the state of repair of the building, potential asbestos contamination and problems with gaining access slowed down efforts to clear Strathmartine Hospital.

However, it states that when the finding of documents was reported to NHS Tayside in January 2007 it was treated as an "isolated incident" and the site was not fully checked.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has agreed new recommendations to protect patient privacy following the discoveries at Strathmartine.

In a statement, NHS Tayside said: "We will be adopting all of the recommendations contained in the Strathmartine report.

"We have conducted our own extensive internal investigation into the incident and have already undertaken a huge amount of work to ensure all our records management policies and procedures are as robust as possible.

"As we have already said, the situation at Strathmartine was unacceptable and we have learned many lessons which will now be incorporated into our new site retraction procedures."

New rules to protect patient data
03 Oct 08 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
Data watchdog probes health board
23 May 08 |  Tayside and Central
Probe into dumped health records
22 May 08 |  Tayside and Central

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