Patients’ private medical details ‘were found dumped in a bin’ near Tunbridge Wells

SMP Healthcare

The confidential information of patients, along with medical waste was found scattered across a road and in a public bin in Pembury.

The “beyond astonishing” discovery was made by villager Patrick Gillan, who desperately tried to gather up the papers as they blew up the road.

Patients’ names, dates of birth, unique NHS numbers and hospital numbers were on papers and other items, he said.

One item appeared to be an empty IV solution bag, showing numerous personal details including the patient’s name, his date of birth, his NHS number, precisely what he was being given via the drip and the quantities, what ward he was on, and his consultant’s name.

Mr Gillan was so concerned about the security breach and threat to patients’ privacy, he returned to where he had found it in Lower Green Road to check the public bin and to his horror found more waste inside.

The Pembury parish councillor and former healthcare manager took the waste immediately to his GP surgery Waterfield House Practice where staff said they would report it as a “significant event”.

Other items Mr Gillan discovered late morning on Monday (February 13) near the Maidstone Road junction were what he believed to be unused blood bags, along with used blue infection control gloves, wet wipes, empty medicine cartridges and a plastic folder with patients’ details.

The NHS told Kent Live it took patient confidentiality “extremely seriously” and was firstly working to establish where the waste had come from.

Mr Gillan, 61, said: “The papers were blowing about in the wind, across the whole road, up the grass embankments, in the kerb. I was absolutely gobsmacked.

“It was a wee bit windy, so clearly it had not long happened and blowing out of the bin up the street.”

He got straight on the phone to report it to Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, because the name of Tunbridge Wells Hospital was on a piece of waste.

“What makes this worse is that it’s a time when our NHS is being abused by non-European foreign nationals and you don’t have to look far to see the patients’ details – just look in the bin.

I worked in healthcare for many years, I was a registered manager, and confidential information was inspected by the Care Quality Commission and had to be under lock and key – yet it is exactly this type of information someone has abandoned in a public bin in the open air. It beggars belief,” said artist Mr Gillan.

A spokesman for the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust said: “We take patient confidentiality extremely seriously.

We have contacted the practice and are taking a lead role on behalf of the NHS to secure the items and establish where they are from.

“We are unable to comment further until this work has been concluded.”