Fourteen computers have been stolen from NHS trusts in Wales in the last three years, a Freedom of Information request has found.
According to BBC Wales, six NHS trusts have collectively experienced more than 150 incidents of confidential data being lost or stolen from hospital grounds.
Data losses occurred in a variety of ways. In addition to lost and stolen PCs and laptops, these included mixed up paperwork, lost post and misdirected faxes.
The papers released to BBC Wales show that other breaches occurred when staff allowed relatives to read confidential files and clerical errors led to more staff viewing files than necessary.
Welsh health minister, Edwina Hart, told the BBC that she found the FOI findings “pretty horrific” and said more must be done to protect patient confidentiality.
“I regard this as absolute tardiness… we cannot have confidential information on patients going out in this way,” she added. “I appreciate a lot of information flows within the NHS – out of hospitals, into hospitals – but we must try and protect patient records.
“It’s the duty of everyone to ensure that they go to the right address and that records aren’t left lying around.” Hart said she would ensure the head of NHS Wales, Ann Lloyd, and trust chairs took the matter seriously.
One of the worst incidents involved a nurse at Wrexham Maelor Hospital finding a sheet of paper in a puddle that contained confidential information on young patients.
A spokesperson for analysts IDC told E-Health Insider: “Continuing incidents like this clearly show that it is time for IT managers to be responsible for the data they are in charge of.
“Patients do not want incidents like this to happen, and after cases like HMRC, it is understandable that there are concerns. We must get serious about the importance of good quality secure data.