NHS Surrey Stung By IT Mess-Up

The protection of patient data should surely be at the top of the priority list for the National Health Service, but it seems that one data destruction error exposed nearly 3,000 records from the area run by NHS Surrey.
In one of the most significant mistakes in data handling seen to date, NHS Surrey’s data destruction agency failed to properly erase patient details before proceeding to sell a computer at auction. This failure has seen a huge £200,000 fine imposed on the Service, one of the largest since its establishment in 1948.
This problem has encouraged an inquest into data handling methods, and three of the ten computers retrieved by the investigators were found to include data that should have been successfully erased.

Data Destruction Fail

Data protection and security is essential for well-managed IT, and organisations need be ensure that they are protected, as sensitive information should never be exposed to the wider world. This is the latest example of incompetence on the part of trusted firms, although the responsibility for standards ultimately falls on those who hire them. The company that handled the data destruction took no fee for the work, on the basis that they would make their money from re-sell. These revelations have seriously harmed their reputation, as well as that of NHS Surrey.

Better News For NHS IT

In brighter news for the NHS, Aintree University Hospital has won “Public Sector Project of the Year” at the Computer Weekly European User Awards, proving that despite some difficult years in implementing large-scale IT systems, they can still succeed with Enterprise Software.
Their solution here was to implement a system that correctly recognises printed forms, scanning the information and storing it on a digital record. These digital records back up the physical ones, and ensure that patients’ files are correctly stored in all instances.
The trust was praised for maintaining a focus on solving real world problems, and not employing unnecessary technology for little purpose. In total, 45 million pages of data will be scanned in using this new system. Just to top it off, the project was completed on budget and on time; arguably a result not usually associated with the NHS.

Enterprise Software For Public Sector Organisations

For public sector organisations, security is one of the primary concerns. Confidential data needs to be stored within systems that are reliable, and information needs to be handled with great care. Hopefully, this error by NHS Surrey will improve their focus on ensuring data security for patients.
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