PM in new pledge to secure databases

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Gordon Brown has accepted that the Government will need to bring in new safeguards to restore public confidence in the huge databases held by state-run services.

Demands for greater security grew yesterday after it emerged that nine NHS trusts in England had lost patient records on hundreds of thousands of people, putting a question mark over controversial plans for a centralised NHS computer system. One of the breaches came when a disc containing the names of 160,000 children was lost by the City and Hackney Primary Care Trust.

the Prime Minister promised to tighten up procedures next spring, after a review by Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner, and Mark Walport, the head of the Wellcome Trust, into data security in the public and private sectors.

His pledge came during a telephone conversation with Nick Clegg in the past week. The new Liberal Democrat leader raised the dangers of pressing ahead with giant databases across the public sector, warning that the Government faced a "serious backlash". He also reiterated his party's objections to a national identity card scheme. Mr Brown supports the idea, but is likely to seek extra safeguards to allay the public's doubts.

The problems in the NHS came to light during a review after the personal details of 25 million people were lost by HM Revenue and Customs. A Department of Health spokesman said patients had been told and that there was no evidence that data had fallen into the wrong hands.