Investigation launched as medical details of patients found lying in street

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital in Colney. Picture: James Bass

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital in Colney. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Evening News © 2009

A hospital has launched an investigation after personal details of more than 30 patients were found in the street by a member of the public.

On Sunday, December 13, a mother-of-three from Sprowston happened upon a wad of A4 papers on the ground, at the junction of Aylsham Road and Berners Street in Mile Cross.

The 35-year-old woman, who did not wish to be named, picked up the documents and on closer inspection found the personal details of 36 different people who had attended the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) in recent weeks.

Among the details contained in the documents were names, dates of birth, details of medical conditions and reasons for hospital admittance for each of the people listed.

The junction of Aylsham Road and Berners Street, where the documents were found

The junction of Aylsham Road and Berners Street, where the documents were found - Credit: Google

Not wanting them to be found by anybody else, the woman kept hold of the documents and took them home with her - later informing the hospital of her discovery.

She said: "I know if I had family members that were seriously ill I would be distraught to learn their details were just lying there in the street. I'm not sure quite how long it had been there for but it was just lying on the ground, so anybody could have found it."

The documents contain intimate details about medical conditions people were suffering from, including a man with a hernia and a woman struggling to swallow.

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A spokesman for the hospital confirmed that an investigation had been launched into the incident, which is being treated as a serious data breach.

They said: "We take the protection of personal information extremely seriously and have launched an internal investigation as a matter of urgency."

Alex Stewart, of Healthwatch Norfolk.

Alex Stewart, of Healthwatch Norfolk. - Credit: Archant

Alex Stewart, chief executive of Healthwatch Norfolk, said: "Obviously, it is very concerning if the personal details have been left in the middle of the street either by accident or design.

"On the whole, data protection at the NNUH is very good and incidents like this are very rare, but from our perspective, they should not be happening at all. We hope a full and proper investigation is carried out."

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