Medical equipment and computers worth tens of millions of pounds is being lost or stolen from NHS hospital wards every year, a survey has revealed.

A Freedom of Information Act survey of 100 trusts by More4 News found that 522 computers or laptops had been stolen or lost over the past three years.

Reporters for the TV channel discovered that Christie Hospital in Manchester had nine laptops, 33 computers and three personal digital assistants stolen with a total value of more than £87,000.

Alison Norman, the hospital’s director of nursing and governance, told More4 News the laptops had been stolen from “behind locked doors, in protected locations” and that the hospital was now investing more than £300,000 in a new CCTV system.

The hospital also admitted that thousands of patient records – including test results – were on the laptops. However, it told More4 News that its encryption software would ensure they could not be accessed by thieves.

Other items reported stolen in the survey of trusts in England included: £78,000 of cardiovascular equipment from Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridgeshire, £114,771 of equipment for studying stomach complaints from the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield, and £41,000 of ultrasound machines from West Middlesex University Hospital in London.

The survey also found eight hospital beds had been stolen from Arrowe Park Hospital in Wirral at a cost of £4,280.

More4 News said some thefts were likely to involve high-end kit being "stolen to order" by organised gangs. According to the programme, hospitals carry insurance excesses of between £10,000 and £20,000, so they are likely to be unable to claim for most of equipment stolen.

Christie Hospital declined to make further comment to E-Health Insider, but confirmed the facts uncovered by the programme.


More4 News piece