University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust lost the personal information of 87 patients when a medical student mislaid an unencrypted memory stick.
According to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), the trust breached the Data Protection Act when the personal details of patients, and sensitive information relating to their treatment, were lost last December.
The mistake happened when a medical student, who had been on a placement at the hospital's Burns and Plastics Department, copied data onto a personal, unencrypted memory stick for research purposes.
The ICO's investigation found that the hospital had assumed that the student had received data protection training at medical school and therefore did not provide him with the induction training given to its own staff. The hospital has now agreed to take steps to ensure that the personal information accessed by students is kept secure.
Sally Anne Poole, acting head of enforcement at the ICO, said: “This case highlights the need to ensure data protection training for healthcare providers is built in early on, so that it becomes second nature. Medics handle some of the most sensitive personal information possible and it is vital that they understand the need to keep it secure at all times, especially when they are completing placements at several health organisations.
“NHS bodies also have a duty to make sure their staff, both permanent and temporary, understand their responsibilities on day one in the job.
“While we are pleased that the University Hospital of South Manchester has taken action to avoid this oversight in the future, we will continue to work with healthcare bodies and education providers to make sure that data protection training is a mandatory part of people's education.”
A further undertaking was also signed by the London Ambulance Service, which breached the Data Protection Act after a personal laptop was stolen from a contractor's home. The laptop contained contact details and transport requirements relating to 2,664 patients.