A doctors’ surgery has apologised after confidential data about more than 100 patients was made public.
A major IT glitch resulted in information about patients at the Fordingbridge Surgery, including their names, addresses and NHS numbers, accidentally appearing online.
A house-hunter was researching a property in the area when an Internet search engine threw up a link to a document containing 114 names.
The document was published more than two years ago but it is not known how long it was on the Internet and how many people have viewed its contents.
At the bottom of each page it said: “NHS confidential. Personal information about a patient.”
The house-hunter contacted the Daily Echo's sister paper, the Salisbury Journal, which alerted the surgery. Staff took immediate action to remove the page, which did not contain any medical records.
All the people on the list were members of a patient participation group.
The data breach appears to have been caused by a central server hosted by a surgery in the north of England but used by GP practices across the country.
All files on the server are password protected, but the rogue file appears to have been uploaded and somehow went astray. The surgery has reported the incident to data protection watchdogs at the Information Commissioner’s Office, and Google has removed the link.
But the person who raised the alarm said: “Whoever so carelessly allowed confidential NHS records to be publicly displayed in this way deserves to suffer serious career damage.”
A Fordingbridge Surgery spokesman said: “The partners are aware that a breach of data has occurred and apologise unreservedly for any distress this has caused.
"We take the safeguarding of patient data very seriously and a thorough investigation has taken place as to how this occurred.”