Medical research group slammed over laptop loss

An NHS laptop containing medical records for more than 8.63 million people has been missing for three weeks, a health authority admitted, before coming under fire from police for failing to report the loss in a timely manner.

A staggering 20 laptops at London Health Programmes disappeared from a storeroom three weeks ago, and while eight have been recovered a further 12 are still missing. One of those still unaccounted for is known to hold confidential data on 8.6 million patients, including postcodes, genders, age, ethnic origins, and details of illnesses and procedures ranging from cancer, HIV, and abortions. Only the names of the afflicted or otherwise are missing from the database

While the losses were noticed by the group three weeks ago, The Sun claims that it took until last week for the police to be notified. The delay has left those investigating the loss "dismayed," and could well harm efforts to recover the missing laptops and their payload of private data.

According to the newspaper's coverage, the laptops are worth around £10,000 each. It's not clear how this valuation is reached - as even the most expensive Apple-branded system retails for a fraction of that figure - but the value of the hardware and software lost is likely to pale into insignificance when compared to the medical data.

The loss is currently under investigation by the Information Commissioner's Office, but both it and the NHS North Central London health authority were unable to comment on this story.