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NHS hospitals on alert after thefts of expensive medical equipment.

Security managers at NHS hospitals have been put on alert after a spate of thefts of expensive pieces of medical equipment.

Paul Gilderdale, a specialist at the NHS's Security Management Service, said a number of endoscopes, each worth tens of thousands of pounds, had been stolen.

There were suspicions that the items were being stolen to order by organised criminal gangs, and speculation that they may be being taken to Eastern Europe or Africa to be sold. The highly specialised pieces of diagnostic equipment are inserted into various orifices on the body in order to look at internal organs. They are normally kept within secure areas of hospitals, where thieves would have to get past CCTV cameras, access controls and alarm systems in order to steal them, said Mr Gilderdale.

He said: "We have issued a bulletin to our network of security management specialists in place in every hospital in the country, requesting information on these types of thefts.

"We have identified a potential problem. Looking at the detail of some of these thefts, there is a suggestion that there may be some organised criminality.

"They are highly specialised pieces of equipment and wouldn't really be attractive to a casual thief.

"There has been some speculation that they are being sold in Eastern Europe, but police inquiries haven't actually confirmed that issue.

"According to an investigation by BBC News Online, there have been ten raids in hospitals across the UK.

York Hospital reportedly had pounds 300,000 of endoscopy equipment, used for internal examinations, stolen.

The University Hospital of North Durham had a pounds 35,000 heart scanner taken, while endoscopes were stolen from Leicester General Hospital and Newcastle's Freeman Hospital, the BBC said.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Feb 14, 2006
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