By Rebecca Smith
Computer security failures that allowed sensitive personal details of
junior doctors applying for training posts to be viewed by others were
an "unacceptable breach of security" by the Department of Health, the
Information Commissioner has found.
The sensitive details of thousands of doctors, including religious
beliefs and sexual orientation, could be seen by anyone logging on to
the Medical Training Application Service site.
The commissioner said the Department of Health had breached the Data
Protection Act and warned that if it happened again the department would
The findings increase pressure on ministers over the handling of
sensitive personal data and follows a series of security blunders.
Yesterday officials were forced to admit that the pension details of
6,500 people had been lost by HM Revenue Customs - the same department
that lost two discs in the post containing the child benefit records of
Officials at the Department of Health were ordered yesterday to encrypt
any personal data and test the systems regularly.
The national online computer system will not be used in next year's
recruitment process following the fiasco this year. A local CV and
paper-based application process will be used instead.
The security breaches were part of the reason why the whole process
collapsed in chaos in May this year.
Ram Moorthy, chairman of the British Medical Association's Junior
Doctors Committee, said: "This was a scandal that must never be
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