Almost 100 confidential NHS patient records have been dumped in a bin in Aberdeen.
Handover notes, which should have been shredded by health board staff, were found outside a block of flats in Bannermill Place by a concerned member of the public who contacted the Evening Express.
NHS Grampian today said it had launched an investigation and described the breach of data security as “extremely disappointing”.
The documents, which cover orthopaedic trauma patients in wards 212 and 213 at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary over the last three weeks, include patient names, ages, treatments and general conditions.
In total 30 pages of confidential records were found in the bin – with each marked with the NHS Grampian logo and twice tagged on each page as confidential with the clear instruction to “destroy by shredding” printed at the foot.
The man who found the documents, who asked not to be named, told of his shock at finding information regarding members of the public’s private medical conditions in a bin.
He said: “I came down to put some rubbish in the bin and they were just sitting on top of the rubbish.
“There wasn’t even any attempt made to disguise them.
“I did think about contacting the hospital, but I wanted to make sure that it couldn’t be swept under the rug. It’s shocking that they were just put there, and I still believe in the power of the press to hold people like this to account.”
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NHS Grampian confirmed it reported the breach to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), as is legally required by data protection laws.
A spokeswoman for the ICO said: “NHS Grampian has made us aware of this incident and we will assess the information provided.”
North East Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald said: “This needs to be investigated and NHS Grampian needs to get to the bottom of this.
“It would be surprising if any member of staff was authorised to take any medical files off the premises.
“Certainly, disposing of them in a public bin is unacceptable.
“I think that patients will want reassurance from NHS Grampian that this is a one off, and it will not be allowed to happen again.”
A spokeswoman for the board said staff regularly received training around data security.
She said: “Patients have the right to expect their data to be stored securely.
“Investigations into how these documents ended up in a public bin are getting under way.
“We take the issue of data protection very seriously.
“We regularly train our staff in the importance and procedures covering data protection for the people we serve, and will continue regular training and awareness raising.”