VICTIMS of a data security breach have welcomed decisive action by health bosses.

A senior manager has now been sacked after his hospital laptop was stolen from his car while he was on holiday in Scotland. The laptop contained personal details of thousands of patients.

The manager had been suspended while an internal investigation was carried out by Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust and has now been dismissed.

Bob Simons, 63, who lives in Arlesford, was one of the thousands of patients whose details were on the laptop.

He said: "If the senior manager acted on his own initiative in taking the laptop with him and has gone against the rules, he deserved what he got.

"I am surprised the hospital acted as quickly as they have. I think they have tried to come down hard to make sure it does not happen again."

Peter Crisell, of Nayland, whose details where on the laptop, had writen to chief executive of Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust Peter Murphy calling for the manager to be fired.

He said: "He had no right to take the laptop to Scotland on holiday - why should he?

"I think he deserved to be dismissedfor what he has done."

A Colchester pensioner, whose personal information was also on the stolen computer, added: "I believe anyone who disobeys confidentiality rules and takes information out of the office deserves a severe reprimand. It is not the way to behave."

Mr Murphy said: "Following a disciplinary hearing held after a detailed investigation, the senior manager whose hospital laptop computer was stolen has been dismissed from the trust with immediate effect.

“The unanimous decision of the disciplinary panel sends out a clear statement about how seriously the Trust takes security and patient confidentiality.

“I again apologise for the distress the theft of this laptop may have caused.”

An external evaluation of laptop computer security will now take place at Colchester General Hospital.

Work has already been carried out to close up gaps in the trust’s security.

The data on the stolen laptop was password protected but was not encrypted. Now all 114 laptop computers owned by the trust have been recalled and their data encrypted.

Mr Murphy said the trust had given all laptop users a series of guidelines about their use and said the manager had been sacked for breaching them.

“Our previous guidance was that laptops were not supposed to leave the building and with hindsight you could say we should have encrypted them.

“We issued the guidance to everyone and someone has now lost their job because of this.

“We have sent out reminders to every employee about the rules and asked them to take particular care."