According to a new report, the NHS has suffered at least 7255 data breaches between 2011 and 2014 – or, six breaches a day.
NHS Data Breaches, published by civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, claims to reveal examples of medical data being lost, shared on social media and inappropriately shared with third parties.
The report claims the breaches include:
During the course of disciplinary proceedings, the researchers found at least 32 people resigned and one court case is currently pending for a breach of the Data Protection Act (DPA).
As well as investigating the number of breaches, the report also reflects on the legislation that is in place to address these issues.
According to Big Brother Watch, this highlights that the DPA has a number of flaws that needs to be corrected.
The organisation claims the Act does very little to discourage those who are seriously considering breaking data protection legislation and also makes it harder clamp down on individuals and groups knowingly flouting the rules.
Big Brother Watch has proposed three measures to address these problems: including custodial sentences and criminal records for the worst offenders and the provision of better training.
“The information held in medical records is of huge personal significance and for details to be wrongly disclosed, maliciously accessed or lost is completely unacceptable,” claimed the organisation’s director Emma Carr.
“With an increasing number of people having access to patients’ information, the threat of data breaches will only get worse. Urgent action is therefore needed to ensure that medical records are kept safe and the worst data breaches are taken seriously.
“If the government wants to make the public’s data more accessible, then this must go hand in hand with greater penalties for those who abuse that access. This should include the threat of jail time and a criminal record,” she added.