A senior hospital manager, who lost a laptop containing the unencrypted records of more than 20,000 patients while he was on holiday, has been dismissed from his position.

The manager from Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust, lost the laptop in Edinburgh in June, and was initially suspended while a police investigation and an internal inquiry was conducted.

Last Friday, the un-named manager was summoned to a disciplinary hearing, where the trust decided to terminate his employment.

Peter Murphy, the trust’s chief executive, said: “Following a disciplinary hearing after a detailed investigation, the senior manager whose hospital laptop computer was stolen has been dismissed from the trust with immediate effect.

“The unanimous decision of the disciplinary panel sends out a clear statement about how seriously the trust takes security and patient confidentiality. I again apologise for the distress the theft of this laptop may have caused.”

The trust says it is now completing an investigation report into the incident. Murphy added: “We will be engaging an external consultancy to carry out an independent assessment of the trust’s procedures and protocols on data security.”

In May, NHS Connecting for Health selected security software specialist McAfee to provide solutions for endpoint desktop encryption and port control, to protect confidential data on NHS computers and mobile devices.

However, the Department of Health has said it will take at least six months for every trust to complete the rollout of encryption.