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Personal info filed under 'blunder' CONFIDENTIAL DOCUMENTS THROWN OUT.

Byline: HELEN WHITEHOUSE Reporter

CONFIDENTIAL documents detailing the backgrounds of hundreds of people have gone missing following an office upgrade blunder.

Contractors threw out a locked filing cabinet containing up to 500 disclosure and barring service (DBS) certificates for people who had applied to become registered managers and providers.

The error, which happened during the refurbishment of the Care Quality Commission's (CQC) Citygate office in Newcastle city centre, has forced the health watchdog to launch a security review into a "very serious data security breach".

DBS documents contain details of people's convictions, including historic "spent" offences, and have to be completed by people who work in jobs that could put them into unsupervised contact with vulnerable children and adults.

The CQC acknowledged: "This incident represents a very serious data security breach, potentially causing harm or distress to 500 individual members of provider staff." The mistake was identified after contractors moved in to start work on revamping the premises, with CQC bosses now promising an independent review of the organisation's security arrangements.

Missing disclosure certificates were contained in four lever arch files which were in a cabinet wrongly identified as needing to be removed and destroyed as part of the office refurb earlier this month.

CQC chief executive David Behan said: "I would like to apologise to the individuals whose DBS certificates have been lost during the recent refurbishment of our office in Newcastle and for any distress this may cause.

"I deeply regret that this has happened.

"As soon as we became aware of the loss of the files, we carried out a thorough internal investigation to find out exactly what happened and we alerted the relevant authorities, including the Information Commissioner's Office."

Staff who had been working in the department put the documents back in the cabinet and locked it up, following normal procedures, without noticing the sticker indicating it should be removed and destroyed.

That task was then carried out overnight.

Two of the lever arch files from the cabinet were found in the office, but the others are still missing.

Those who applied to become registered between July last year and March have been affected.

According to the CQC's serious incident report, blame was down to "last-minute verbal changes to the requirements for the contractors" and "the lack of adherence to the documented plan and a misunderstanding between CQC staff and the primary contractor team".

The report added: "The last-minute changes to the project plan were not subject to any change control or approved by the project board."

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David Behan

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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Aug 1, 2016
Words:425
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