Hospital loses details of 800 patients

EAST SURREY Hospital lost the medical details of 800 people on an unencrypted memory stick, a report reveals.

Patients’ medical information such as of operations details, names and dates of birth were lost in September 2010 and never recovered.

Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust which runs the hospital made the admissions in an annual 2010/11 report seen by the Observer.

The 800 affected people were never informed and nine other ‘near misses’, where information was mislaid but found, were also recorded.

Chief Executive Michael Wilson said: “We take the confidentiality of patient information extremely seriously. All staff should always use encrypted memory sticks when transferring patient data. It is regrettable that this didn’t happen on this occasion and the member of staff has been taken through the Trust’s disciplinary procedures and has received further training.”

Elsewhere in the report the hospital admits missing a target that 95 per cent of patients arriving in A&E should not wait longer than four hours.

The final percentage for 2010/11 was 90.7 per cent.

The report states: “Current capacity constraints to deliver planned levels of activity, potentially combined with increased demand above the indicative activity level... could lead to an inability to deliver emergency or planned treatment of patients in a timely manner.”

The Trust also failed to meet a target of 18 weeks for patient referral to treatment.

The report states: “The reason for the performance is because demand exceeds capacity in the Trust and has caused a backlog of patients waiting...

“Action is to outsource the backlog to alternative providers, potentially outsource further activity to create additional capacity in the Trust though efficiency actions.”

Between October 2009 and September 2010 the mortality rate for heart attack patients fell to 4.4 per cent from 7 per cent on the previous year.

The report states: “The catalyst for such a change has been the cardiology department’s policy of ‘cart to table’, introduced in Autumn 2008. For the past two years patients arriving by ambulance with a suspected heart attack are driven to the back door of the cardiology department and taken straight into the surgery table.”

The trust also highlighted £2m worth of investment in two MRI scanners, five ultrasound scanners (including two at Crawley Hospital) and a mammography machine for the one-stop breast cancer clinic at Crawley Hospital.

The A&E department recorded a 3.8 per cent increase in attendances in 2010/11 on the previous year – though this included a 2.4 per cent decrease in emergency admissions.

The report also highlighted some of the financial challenges facing the trust. Michael Wilson and chairman Allan McCarthy said: “Finances remain a challenge for the Trust and we have been unable to make the £12m savings plan we set for ourselves this year.

“This has had an impact on our last loan repayment which has now been held over until next financial year when we will renegotiate the repayment terms.”