An East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) data disc containing almost 42,000 patient forms has gone missing from headquarters in Nottingham.
The disc contained just under 42,000 electronic copies of scanned handwritten Patient Report Forms, for those who used the service between September 2012 and November 2012.
EMAS believes the cartridge could still be located in the building, and is conducting a thorough search of the building.
The service states there has been no evidence of a break in at the premises, but as a precaution Nottinghamshire Police have been alerted.
EMAS is now conducting an investigation into why the cartridge has gone missing and how it will be avoided in future, plus reported the incident to the Information Commissioner and NHS organisations who monitor and regulate the service.
Sue Noyes, East Midlands Ambulance Service Chief Executive, is apologising to all patients, but is reassuring that the data would be difficult for someone other than EMAS to read due to using widely obsolete technology to store the files.
She said: “We take our responsibility for the security and confidentiality of the information we record and store very seriously, and express sincere apologies for a patient data loss incident which we have reported to the Information Commissioner this week.
“We are certain the data can only be read via specific hardware which we have in our premises, and which is no longer in production i.e. it is obsolete. Therefore it is unlikely that the information stored on the missing cartridge can be viewed by anyone outside of the organisation.
“It is extremely unfortunate that this incident has occurred, particularly as during this financial year EMAS is replacing the current computerised storage system to strengthen security arrangements.
“People who received an ambulance response during September 2012 to November 2012, and who had their details recorded in handwriting on a paper Patient Report Form, can speak to us via telephone 0115 884 5055 (8am to 8pm) if they have any concerns about this news.
“We have taken a proactive approach to report this because we are an open and transparent service and we know it is our duty to inform people when such an incident occurs.”