ICO slams NHS for data breaches

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The Information Commissioner has complained to the Department of Health (DoH) over data breaches in the NHS.

Commissioner Richard Thomas wrote to the permanent secretary Hugh Taylor to "highlight" data control problems at 14 NHS trusts and other health organisations over the past six months. A spokesperson for the ICO told IT PRO that the high number of incidents was "clear evidence to us there's some issues there."

The ICO said it was set to release details of more NHS data breaches today or tomorrow, while the Independent newspaper reported that the NHS had been hit by 140 such incidents over the past four months alone.

The DoH and the NHS have policies in place to prevent such breaches, but "they don't seem to be implementing them at grass roots level," the spokesperson added. She explained that Thomas' letter called for the NHS to have better staff training as well as to better enforce data handling policies. If the ICO is not given proof of such changes, it may increase spot checks, the spokesperson said.

The DoH had not responded to our request for comment, but it told the Independent that it would reply in "due course."

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