AN investigation has been launched after confidential medical notes for seriously ill patients were left lying on a table in a train station waiting room.
Hospital bosses have pledged to find out how details for 18 elderly patients were left for anyone to take on a table at Evesham railway station.
Fortunately, the person who found them used to work for the NHS in Worcestershire and recognised the papers immediately as patient records from a palliative care ward at Evesham Community Hospital.
They have asked to remain anonymous but said they were “astounded” to discover the documents and that it has left them with serious concerns about the security of patients’ private information.
“Is this how the NHS in Worcestershire treats our confidential health notes, by leaving them on a table in a railway station for all to see?” they said.
The four, typed A4 sides of paper recovered are dated from a day last month and contain details of elderly patients aged between 64 and 98 being treated on one of the hospital’s wards – which we have chosen not to publish to protect those involved.
However, as well as sensitive details of conditions and treatments, the notes, which have been annotated in several places by hand, also reveal detailed information about patients’ personal circumstances.
The person who found them said they sent them to your Worcester News to highlight “how bad security is” in the NHS in Worcestershire.
Bosses at Worcestershire Health and Care Trust, which runs the hospital, have admitted the security breach is unacceptable and are now working to establish how it happened.
A spokesman said the documents were “handover notes” to help nurses working on the ward – and that there is clear guidance stating they should be disposed of at the end of a shift.
“On this occasion we believe a member of staff has made a genuine mistake in taking them off the ward and then unintentionally leaving them in a public area but we are investigating the circumstances to understand why this happened,” he said.
“We will be contacting all the patients whose names appear on the notes to apologise and to reassure them that we will be reviewing our systems to ensure they are as tight as possible to minimise the chances of this happening in the future.
“We will also take this opportunity to remind all our staff off the expectations on them when it comes to handling patient information.”