£1m of items go missing in Scots hospitals

ITEMS worth close on a million pounds have been lost or stolen from Scotland's hospitals in the past two years, according to a new report.

Health secretary Nicola Sturgeon revealed there were 1,330 such incidents in 2008-9. Items worth 523,503 were either stolen or lost in that year – up from 401,077 in 2007-8 and taking the total for the two years to 924,580. Following questions from Labour, the Scottish Government had originally put the value of items that were lost and stolen last year at about 325,000.

Labour health spokesman Dr Richard Simpson claimed the corrected figure was "an embarrassing admission for the Scottish Government".

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He said: "I am shocked that so many items are being lost or stolen from NHS premises and it is very worrying that, when money is so tight, the losses are going up, not down.

"We simply can't afford for this continue. The toll of lost and stolen items is likely to include laptops, which may hold sensitive patient information, along with medical equipment and possibly even hospital furniture.

"I want the health secretary to take action so that patients can be confident that their records don't fall into the wrong hands."

Sturgeon said: "It is the responsibility of individual NHS boards to ensure they have the right security measures in place."

She added: "Richard Simpson provides no evidence for his assertions about what may – or may not – have been stolen, but I have made clear to NHS boards the high importance I attach to good data protection procedures."