Data breach at GP surgery as postbox stolen with prescriptions inside
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A GP surgery has warned its patients of a serious data breach after its postbox was stolen by a member of the public - along with the repeat prescription forms of several people.
In a letter sent out to patients of Hellesdon Medical Practice in north Norwich, practice manager Debbie Moore said staff were "very sorry" about the incident, which they suspect was the result of an offender planning to use the requests to obtain medication for an addiction.
She said all local pharmacies had been made aware of the theft so they could be "vigilant to any requests".
The letter went on: "At this point, we would like to assure you that should someone try and obtain a prescription with your details, they would not obtain any access to your medical record.
"Our staff are currently undertaking additional checks when a patient calls in to be sure they are talking to the correct patient."
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The practice also said it was working with the Information Commissioner's Office due to the breach of confidential patient details.
Police confirmed they had received the call from the practice at 8.55am on May 12 to reports of a stolen mailbox from Reepham Road. It is believed to have happened sometime between 5.30pm on May 11 and 9am the following day. No arrests have yet been made in connection with the incident.
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A spokesperson for the medical practice said it takes any potential data breach extremely seriously and have "robust systems in place to investigate any events involving the loss of confidential information".
They continued: "We are very sorry this happened and for any distress caused.
"We will work closely with the ICO and follow any recommended actions."
Moving forward, the practice manager said they were looking at "adding a new postbox" which "feeds inside the practice".
Explaining this decision, she said: "We had previously removed this many years ago due to it being continually used by the public as a waste bin, however we believe it is appropriate to reinstate at this time.
"We will also be installing cameras around the building that will capture images of the post box and the perimeters of the practice."
Anyone with information should contact the police, quoting crime reference number 36/31898/21.