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NHS data loss: 500 patients may have suffered serious harm

Five hundred patients may have suffered serious harm as a result of the NHSmislaying 500,000 test results and letters over a five-year period, ministers and officials have admitted in parliament.

The review is also understood to be looking at whether correspondence between GPs and hospitals that was mislaid between 2011 and 2016 caused or contributed to the death of any patients, sources added.

Chris Wormald, the permanent secretary at the Department of Health, told MPs on Monday that NHS England was still investigating 537 “live cases” to establish if a patient’s health had been damaged because of the blunder – after the Guardian exposed the scale of the huge loss of patient-sensitive material.

Giving evidence to the public accounts committee, Wormald said that the 537 cases included 173 which, having already been examined for evidence of “potential high risk of harm”, are now being subjected to “further clinical review”.

Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, was also summoned to the Commons by an urgent question from Labour to explain why NHS Shared Business Services (SBS) had stored more than 500,000 different documents relating to patients’ diagnoses and treatment in a warehouse instead of delivering them to GP surgeries across England, as it was meant to do.

Hunt also faced claims by Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, that he had covered up what he called a catastrophic breach of data protection.

“Over half a million patients’ data – including blood tests results, cancer screening results, biopsy results, even correspondence relating to cases of child protection – all undelivered,” Ashworth said. “They were languishing in a warehouse on the secretary of state’s watch.”

Source: The Guardian

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