Great Ormond Street Hospital has had a laptop stolen that contains limited information on 458 patients.


It was stolen from the audiology department and while the information included names, the hospital claimed that it did not include any contact details. It said that it has written to all families concerned to explain the situation and to apologise. A helpline number has been set up and the theft has been reported to the police and the Information Commissioner.


Trust chief executive Dr Jane Collins, said: “We must apologise to the families for any anxiety this will cause. Patient confidentiality is very important to us and we have acted quickly to minimise the damage done. The Trust has provided the facility for all departments to encrypt patient data through encrypted USB sticks, and is rolling out encryption for laptops. This laptop had not yet been encrypted as part of the rolling programme.”


Nick Lowe, Check Point's regional director for Northern Europe, claimed that the incident highlights the need to protect data whether inside or outside of the office in all circumstances.


He said: “In a high-risk environment like a hospital with plenty of public access, sensitive patient data has to be encrypted to minimise risk in the case of theft.


“We don't know yet if this data on the laptop was fully secured, but when we surveyed IT managers in public and private companies in December 2008, under half said they had data encryption solutions deployed in their organisations. Data is still at risk in the majority of organisations.”