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NHS Has Worst Record For Data Breaches

From an unfazed BBC News:

NHS worst for data breaches – Information Commissioner

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

The NHS has reported the highest number of serious data breaches of any UK organisation since the end of 2007, the Information Commissioner’s Office says.

David Smith, deputy commissioner at the ICO told the Infosec security conference the NHS had highlighted 287 breaches to it in the period.

That accounts for more than 30% of the total number reported.

The NHS – the UK’s largest employer with 1.7m staff – is in the process of rolling out digital patient records.

Most of the breaches (113) were the result of stolen data or hardware, followed by 82 cases of lost data or hardware…

Richard Vautrey, the deputy chair of the British Medical Association’s GPs committee thinks the number of breaches reflect the size and complexity of the NHS as well as its culture of openness.

"So many people have access to data and often human error is to blame. There is an increased attempt to be open and honest about what happens to data," he said.

He added that he was not aware of a specific case where a data breach had affected patient privacy or care.

"We need to keep their breaches in perspective," he said.

As part of its plans to digitise patient records, the NHS is asking patients if they want their data stored on national databases. It is important that people are given the chance to opt out, said Mr Vautrey.

Currently the reporting procedure for data breaches in the UK is voluntary although the ICO is "moving towards" a compulsory system.

You see, there is nothing to worry about. Having one’s records online will be "voluntary" — until it is made "compulsory."

In April the ICO introduced fines of up to £500,000 [$760,400] for serious data breaches

"Finally the ICO, which has long demanded greater powers, will be able to severely punish those in serious breach of the Data Protection Act. For too long, organisations have continued to ignore the warning signs – risking both the privacy of their customers and the reputations of their brands," said Jamie Cowper, European marketing director at PGP.

He anticipates "severe fines" for the next private sector company to be involved in a serious data breach although he does not imagine the ICO will pursue the NHS.

So the government’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is not going to fine the NHS – the worst offender? That is really cracking down.

And it must be very reassuring to everyone who has given the NHS their medical records.

PGP calculated that data breaches cost companies, on average, £67 [$102] per piece of data lost.

Remember that one of the elements of ‘healthcare reform’ Mr. Obama used to love to tout was how it would put all of our medical records online. This alone was suppose to save us billions — if not gazillions — of dollars.

Somehow the promise of digitalizing the nation’s medical records seems to have fallen by the wayside. At least it doesn’t get much mention anymore.

Why is that?

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, April 28th, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

3 Responses to “NHS Has Worst Record For Data Breaches”

  1. Right of the People says:

    “Somehow the promise of digitalizing the nation’s medical records seems to have fallen by the wayside. At least it doesn’t get much mention anymore.”

    It will happen, that can be a certainty. What better way to deny you what you need than to have your entire health history at their fingertips?

    You used to smoke and now you have cancer? DENIED!
    You were overweight and now you need cardiac surgery? DENIED!
    You didn’t get your flu shot and now you have pneumonia? DENIED!

    It probably is already in the works.

    • canary says:

      So, I’ve read. The rumors that all your finances will be in a bar-code on your forehead. No paper, plastic, to deal with. One click of the button, and the government can make you starve and be poor. There’s been a lot written about this, and Obama wanting global euros is just the start.

  2. jobeth says:

    “”We need to keep their breaches in perspective,” he said. ”

    Oops…I see a mistake…here, let me fix that…

    “We need to keep their breaches in perspective secret,” he said.

    Fixed that one!

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