Aintree University Hospitals mandates USB stick encryption

Aintree University Hospitals, an NHS foundation trust, has banned the use of unencrypted USB memory sticks in its premises.

Following the news of data breaches in other hospitals and other parts of the public sector, the trust has rolled out 500 encrypted USB drives from supplier Network Defence, called SafeSticks.

The memory sticks will be used by clinical staff as well as employees in administration functions. Users will only be able to access data on the sticks using a password, and the sticks will automatically encrypt any data loaded onto them.

Ward Preistman, director of informatics at the trust, said he hoped the move meant Aintree would set a "standard" for other hospitals.

"Patients expect us to take all reasonable steps to safeguard their data, and that's exactly what we are doing," he said. "We wanted to set the standard for others to follow ... We also wanted a solution that would help reduce the number of service desk calls we get regarding issues with data storage."

A report by the Liberal Democrat party in November revealed that a series of losses and thefts in the NHS had potentially exposed the private details of 10,000 patients around the country. In one instance, a memory stick containing 4,000 patients' records had been lost.

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