The Department of Health has confirmed tens of thousands of medical records have been lost by the NHS after 140 security breaches.
The personal information went missing between January and April this year after computers containing medical records were stolen and passwords were left taped to encrypted discs with sensitive information.
The Information Commissioner has taken action against 14 NHS bodies for breaching data regulations over the last six months, and the watchdog has ordered an urgent review of data security in the health service.
Commissioner Richard Thomas has written to the Department of Health calling for immediate improvements to be made to the way personal data is handled within the NHS.
The Independent newspaper reported that Mr Thomas plans to send in a "crack team" of inspectors to examine how data is protected by hospitals and medical workers across Britain.
This comes after one GP was said to have downloaded a complete patient database, including the medical histories of 10,000 people, on to an unsecured laptop. The laptop was then stolen from his home and never retrieved.
Mick Gorrill, assistant information commissioner, has warned of a "complete disconnect" between procedures laid down by managers and practice "on the ground".