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Lost mental hospital memory stick had health records

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A USB memory stick containing personal information on patients and staff at a secure hospital near Falkirk has been found in a car park outside an Asda store in nearby Stenhousemuir.

Data on the unencrypted device included names, addresses and (worse still) medical records of patients. A member of staff at the Tryst Park unit at Bellsdyke Hospital has been suspended over the incident, the BBC reports. The unit treats patients with severe mental health problems.

A spokeswoman for NHS Forth Valley said: "We are very concerned to learn of this incident and are looking into it as a matter of urgency. We have clear policies in place on the safe use of portable data devices.

"We can confirm a member of staff has been suspended in connection with this incident."

The memory stick, which was found by a 12-year-old boy, has been returned to the Trust, which last month admitted it had lost records of patients under treatment by its audiology department in a incident blamed on a computer failure.

Security firm Check Point said that the lost of the unencrypted memory stick shows many organisations are still failing to apply the lessons of the many data breaches that have happened in the past two and half years.

“This incident shows yet again why data on USB drives must be encrypted at all times," said Nick Lowe, Check Point’s head of Western European sales. "Guidelines and security policies don’t stop devices being lost or misplaced.

“The only way to protect data is to use mandatory encryption whenever data is moved or copied, and to ensure that users can’t turn off, disable or work around that protection." ®

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