Confidential patient information has been lost in scores of cases, according to a catalogue of NHS data losses released last night.

Files, computers and memory sticks containing details of thousands of patients have been lost according to details released under the Freedom of Information Act.

Reports from all 10 strategic health authorities in England show incidents ranging from the theft of a laptop with more than 5,000 patients' details in the West Midlands to the loss a memory stick with 4,000 patient records and the disappearance of 100 patients' paper records in the North West.

Other examples include medical records found in a street in Yorkshire and the Humber and vaccination records lost in the internal post in the same region.

The Liberal Democrats, who obtained the details, condemned the "utterly shocking" lapses in data security.

Norman Lamb, the party's health spokesman, called for a "fundamental re-examination" of how the NHS deals with personal data. He said: "Patients have a right to expect their personal information will be treated with the utmost care.

"The degree of negligence in some cases is breathtaking given the absolute sensitivity of personal patient data.

"We already know from the Information Commissioner that the NHS is among the worst offenders for data loss, reporting as many incidents as the entire private sector."

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