Patient data and GP workload fears as hundreds of blood tests stolen

GP practices in Surrey have been forced to recall hundreds of patients for repeat tests after a van containing samples of blood, swabs and smears was stolen.

Dr Paul Cundy: practices face huge workload (Photo: Pete Hill)
Dr Paul Cundy: practices face huge workload (Photo: Pete Hill)

Patient-identifiable information – potentially including patients’ names and the tests that had been ordered for them – was lost with the vehicle, GP has learned.

The van, used for collecting pathology samples from GP practices, was stolen on 30 July outside a GP practice in Merton, Surrey.

Up to 300 samples from patients – potentially with patient-identifiable data – were in the van at the time of the theft.

The van had collected samples from 10 GP practices to return for testing at the Epsom and St Helier Hospitals NHS Trust.

All practices affected have begun contacting patients whose to inform them and call them in for repeat checks.

Fears over impact on patients

Dr James Marsh, joint medical director at Epsom and St Helier Hospitals said: ‘Although we are deeply disappointed that someone would choose to steal the van and its contents, our absolute concern at the moment is making sure any impact on patients is as minimal as possible.

‘The van, which was nearing the end of its collection round, contained approximately 250-300 samples. It was stolen from outside the GP surgery on Middleton Road, near St Helier.’

GPC member Dr Paul Cundy, whose Wimbledon practice uses the Epsom and St Helier pathology service, said samples are sent in with forms that give patients’ names, NHS number and date of birth.

Recalling patients and taking samples again would be a ‘huge amount of work’, he warned.

‘It could be an entire session of a phlebotomist’s time for each of the practices,’ he said.

Dr Cundy said the trust should consider fitting tracking devices to vehicles in future.

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