FORDINGBRIDGE Surgery has apologised after confidential patient details were accidentally posted publicly on the internet.
A Journal reader highlighted the error, the result of an IT glitch, after being horrified that details of patients, mostly elderly, were online.
The reader had been researching a property he was interested in and, when he Googled the exact address, the search engine threw up a link to a list of more than 100 patients. The document had been published more than two years ago, in March 2012. It is not known how many people may have also seen it.
At the bottom of each page it said: “NHS Confidential: Personal information about a patient”, and the document listed patients’ names, ages and dates of birth, NHS number and address.
As soon as we contacted the surgery they took swift action to remove the page, which did not contain any medical records.
The problem seems to have been caused by a central server hosted by a surgery in the north of England but used by other surgeries around the country.
All files on the server are password protected, but the rogue file seems to have been uploaded and somehow gone astray.
However the surgery is ensuring this never happens again. It has written to all patients involved, and put a letter of explanation and apology on its own website.
The surgery has also reported the incident to the Information Commissioner’s Office and Google was asked to remove the link, which it now has.
But the Journal reader who stumbled upon the link said: “The document appears to have been posted a couple of years ago. Whoever so carelessly allowed confidential NHS records to be publicly displayed in this way deserves to suffer serious career damage.”
A spokesman for Fordingbridge Surgery said: “The Partners of Fordingbridge Surgery are aware that a breach of data has occurred and apologise unreservedly for any distress this has caused.
"We take the safeguarding of patient data very seriously and a thorough investigation has taken place as to how this occurred. We have taken immediate action to rectify this and have also upgraded our internal policy on putting information online.”