Laptop with details of eye patients is stolen from clinic

POLICE are investigating the theft of a hospital computer containing personal details of Calderdale patients.

The Courier understands a laptop and memory stick were stolen in February from a locked office at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary’s eye clinic.

The memory stick contained patient information – including names, addresses and dates of birth.

Hospital chiefs David Wise, medical director, and Bev Walker, general manager in ophthalmology, have written to patients whose data may be on the memory stick.

They said: “The database is password protected and it is highly unlikely anyone would be able to guess the password, but we believe it is important to let you know.

“The police were immediately informed about the theft, and are investigating.

“We have changed our working practices in the clinic so that patient information is no longer held on individual devices.”

A 43-year-old man has been arrested and charged with burglary.

It is the second theft at the trust in just over a year after a laptop was stolen from Calderdale Royal Hospital in November 2010, containing details on 1,569 patients.

In that incident, the laptop was also taken from a locked room – leading to speculation the theft was an inside job.

The letter adds that anyone with concerns can contact Debra Leather at the NHS Foundation Trust on 01484 342252.

A trust spokeswoman said: “As soon as we became aware of the theft the police were called and they launched an investigation. Although the risk of anyone being able to access the data is very minimal as it is password protected, as a precaution we have written to the small number of affected patients to inform them about the incident.”