The Daily Mail
14th February 2008
A laptop containing personal records of more than 5,000 out-patients has
been stolen from an out-patient clinic at a hospital, it was revealed
Thousands of letters were this week being sent to patients warning them
that the laptop containing their names, addresses, birth dates and
medical details had gone missing.
The theft from Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley, in the Black Country,
comes in the wake of several high-profile laptop thefts including one
belonging to the Ministry of Defence from a car parked in nearby
The computer was taken on January 8 from the anticoagulent clinic, which
deals with people who suffer from blood-thinning problems.
Police were informed at the time but the 5,123 patients involved have
only just been told.
Russells Hall today apologised and reassured patients that the database
But trust chief executive Paul Farenden admitted the laptop, a Fujitsu
Siemens C Series Lifebook, had not yet been fitted with a new 135,000
data security system currently being implemented at Russells Hall.
He said: "Clearly this is a serious issue. We take precautions to try
and protect all the IT equipment in our hospitals from theft but given
this is a public building with thousands of people accessing it every
day, there are inevitably practical difficulties around security.
"Our security team works very hard to ensure the safety of our staff,
patients and visitors, but it is very difficult to mitigate against all
deliberate acts of theft.
"We would like to apologise for any concern this matter has caused those
patients affected, and would like to reassure them that the information
on the database is unlikely to be recoverable."
He said a username and password was required to operate the computer,
and a separate username and password was needed for the database.
There was no evidence that patient information on the stolen laptop had
been accessed, he added.
One 55-year-old patient from Wombourne, who received her letter this
week, said: "Whoever is now in possession of these details can open a
bank account in my name and run up all kinds of debts."
The letter to patients signed by three senior staff describes the theft
as "very unfortunate".
A police spokeswoman said: "West Midlands Police is investigating the
theft of a laptop computer from Russells Hall Hospital on January 8,
"The Fujitsu Siemens Lifebook laptop was taken from an office in the
outpatient department some time between 2.15pm and 4.15pm.
"Anyone with information about the incident is urged to call Dudley
police station on 0845 113 5000."
Last week it emerged a laptop containing the personal details of up to
14,000 convicted criminals was stolen from Birmingham Magistrates Court
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