Patient privacy must not be put at risk

I've urged the NHS to ensure that patient privacy is not put at risk as new figures revealed a large increase in the number of data breaches across Scotland’s health service.

Figures obtained by the Liberal Democrats through Freedom of Information requests revealed that patient records were affected by data loss, theft or other data breaches on 920 occasions last year.

This is an increase of 388 on the previous year, where privacy rules were breached 532 times.

Details of the breaches provided by NHS boards include occasions in Grampian where patient information was provided to the media. Greater Glasgow and Clyde reported that a folder containing patient labels, results and treatment plans were left in a public area. In Dumfries and Galloway, patient notes were left in a laundry.

We also need the Scottish Government to lead by example

Health boards handle millions of records every year and mistakes on data protection happen from time to time. We need all those handling patient records to be mindful how they secure our private information and ensure that staff get the proper training that they need.

Over the last three years, patient records have been compromised on almost 2000 occasions - there is clearly room for improvement here.  

We also need the Scottish Government to lead by example. They are yet to respond to a consultation on a new super ID database that would extend access to the NHS central register.

If they insist on pushing these flawed plans through then the risk of mistakes or accidents with NHS data would only increase.

The SNP’s attitude towards protecting our right to privacy has been lackadaisical at best. That needs to change.

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