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A Kent NHS Trust has been criticised after it accidentally destroyed 10,000 archived records and failed to realise the mistake for three months.
The Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust records should have been kept in a dedicated storage area but were put in a disposal room because of a lack space. They were then destroyed by mistake between December 28 and 31 last year.
The trust says it does not know how many of the records contained the personal details of former patients, but some included names, addresses and a limited amount of medical information relating to the patients' previous treatment
Sally Anne Poole, from the information watchdog the ICO said: "Although the majority of information lost was several years old and only being kept for archiving purposes, there is no excuse for failing to keep it secure.
"The hospital should have ensured that the records were kept in a safe area - and, had they had adequate audit trails in place, they would have been able to keep track of where this information was at all times.''
The ICO said the hospital had breached Data Protection rules, and has ordered it to ensure its staff are made aware of data protection polices and procedures and that they receive suitable training on how to follow them.
The trust says no clinical risks were posed to patients by the loss.