Thousands of NHS smart cards go missing

Thousands of NHS computer "smartcards" used to give access to confidential patient records have gone missing.

GP magazine Pulse, which reported the loss, said its survey of NHS bodies suggested the figure could be as high as 6,000.

Connecting for Health, in charge of NHS computer systems, said 4,147 were unaccounted for - but insisted that they were useless without PIN numbers. As many as 1.2 million cards will eventually be issued to NHS staff.

Well over 400,000 cards have already been handed to NHS staff, and Connecting for Health revealed that just under 1% have been reported missing, with 1,240 of these reported in the past year.

Pulse's figure of 6,000 was based on Freedom of Information requests to NHS bodies across England.

Privacy fear over NHS card loss (BBC News, 6 February 2008)