A LAPTOP containing confidential information on 2,000 patients was stolen from Broomfield Hospital.

The news has angered the Patients’ Association – a charity helping to give a voice to patients in their dealings with the NHS – amid concerns for the security of patient data held at hospitals.

The computer, which had been through a data encryption process, was taken from an office at the hospital during a burglary.

All the patients whose records were affected have been informed, police are investigating and the Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust has increased security at the site.

But Michael Summers, vice chairman of the Patients’ Association, said it was too little, too late.

He added: “It is a real worry for patients and it is happening on a regular basis. I am very concerned. The NHS has not managed to secure patients’ records.

“I receive complaints every month about lost records and this is very serious.”

Ian Lucking, patient information manager for the trust, said: “The trust is treating this matter very seriously and has already launched a full investigation. We have tightened our security procedures to prevent further break-ins occurring.

“All of the laptop computers have gone through a data encryption process to ensure information held on them can only be accessed by authorised staff.

“We have individually contacted all of the 2,000 patients whose details were held on the laptop to inform them of this incident.

“The information on the laptop was password protected and the trust has been reassured by the police that it is highly unlikely any information from the laptop will reach the public domain.

“No data was lost as it had all been backed up on to a secure computer.”

Police are appealing for anyone with information about the theft – which took place over the weekend of Friday, June 26, to Monday, June 29 – to call 0300 3334444.