THE RECORDS of 10,000 patients were lost or stolen from 68 NHS hospitals last year, Freedom of Information requests have shown.
Thinktank Parliament Street, which collated the data, revealed that 9,132 documents went missing around the UK in 2017, prompting concerns about data security.
The largest culprit was University Hospital Birmingham, with 3,179 records reporting missing.
Next was Bolton NHS Trust, with 2,163 misplaced records, and University Hospital Bristol with 1,105 (although almost all of these were found at a later date).
Despite many trusts having an electronic database system in place, 94 per cent still use handwritten notes for patient records.
Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, which uses paper-based case notes, lost 'only' 425 records; comparable to Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust, which uses an electronic database and lost 426 records.
16 of the 68 trusts said that there was no lost or stolen data, but that they did have missing records.
Parliament Street recommends abolishing handwritten notes in hospitals due to the ease of misplacing them and their vulnerability to damage. It also advises a patient identity protocol to improve security and a more convenient system for producing electronic notes.
Hospitals are often a target for cyber attacks because of the vast amounts of sensitive personal information that they hold, and their propensity to run out-of-date IT systems.
According to the report, the public is losing trust in the NHS's ability to protect their data - prompted by the revelation that many trusts were still running Windows XP at the time of the WannaCry outbreak.
"The recent examples of the struggles the NHS has gone through has influenced public attitude towards the health service," Parliament Street said in its report.
"Data and security is a vital element for the NHS, not just to protect the data they hold, but to continue to have public trust in the system and keep their confidential data secure. The publicise of course sceptical of any service that holds their private, personal data but are finding it increasingly difficult to trust the NHS." µ
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