NHS boards across Scotland are to share £1m to help them improve their IT security, beginning with securing USB ports.

The funding, from Scottish Government’s eHealth budget, will be used to help boards comply with new government standards. The new rules on encrypting NHS data were introduced after the discovery of paper patient records at a disused hospital.

The 14 NHS boards across Scotland will receive a share of the money, to help them implement the software needed to lock-down computer USB ports.

Scotland’s health secretary Nicola Sturgeon said that this is a new ‘benchmark’ for information security and should help patients rest assured that their details are in safer hands.

“Patients deserve to know their information is secure with the NHS, and that the people who care for their health will also observe their right to confidentiality,” she said.

Sturgeon added: "Health boards will now have to ensure that patient, staff or corporate records will only be stored on a mobile device when specifically authorised. Also, any mobile devices that hold patient information must be encrypted to a new common standard.”

Although primarily intended to ensure the security of laptops and USB memory sticks, the new standard applies equally to other mobile devices such as PDAs, CDs, BlackBerrys or DVDs.

In May, paper patient records containing the names of patients and their medications, adoption details and information about a child with foetal alcohol syndrome, were found at Strathmartine Hospital in Tayside, which closed in 2005.

As a result the Scottish government commissioned an independent report, which has led to the issuing of new security regulations. These state all mobile devices – such as laptops and memory sticks – that are used to store patient-identifiable data must be encrypted to a new common standard.

The money will be divided between the 14 boards depending on their size and number of staff. The 14 boards are: NHS Ayrshire and Arran, NHS Borders, NHS Dumfries and Galloway, NHS Fife, NHS Forth Valley, NHS Grampian, NHS Greater Glasgow, NHS Highland, NHS Lanarkshire, NHS Lothian, NHS Orkney, NHS Shetland, NHS Tayside, and NHS Western Isles.