The NHS has had more serious data breaches than any other organisation in the country in the last two years, it has been revealed.
The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) said there had been 287 violations since the end of 2007 – 30% of the total number reported.
Deputy Commissioner David Smith explained that most (113) involved cases of stolen data, with a further 82 down to lost information or hardware.
He added, however, that the figure could be explained by a culture within the organisation of reporting all breaches – something the private sector lacked.
Richard Vautrey, the deputy chair of the British Medical Association's GPs' Committee, claimed the incidents should be kept "in perspective", saying they reflected the size and complexity of the service.
The NHS is currently in the process of digitising patient records – a scheme from which patients can opt out.
In April, the ICO was granted the power to issue fines of up to £500,000 for data breaches.