Stolen items from Lothian hospitals total £224k

St Johns Hospital.
St Johns Hospital.
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Thieves have stolen thousands of pounds worth of NHS property over the past five years, prompting concerns over security within Lothian hospitals.

More than £224,000 worth of goods have been taken since 2010, including thefts from patients and staff, according to figures obtained by the Evening News.

The pupils were taken to crosshouse hospital in Kilmarncok. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

The pupils were taken to crosshouse hospital in Kilmarncok. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

The biggest ticket items include laptops and medical equipment, such as wheelchairs, although thieves also made off with a bizarre array of goods ranging from artificial Christmas trees and toasters to a Nintendo Wii Fit, dentures, guitars, sanitary bins and garden furniture was taken from St John’s Hospital.

Campaigners called for more robust security in hospitals to protect patients as well as NHS budgets as the cash-strapped health board struggles to balance the books.

Labour health spokesman Anas Sarwar said: “At a time when our NHS is already facing huge pressures around resources and staffing, many people will be frustrated to see items totaling hundreds of thousands of pounds in value being stolen.

“Stealing from hospitals is a callous crime, especially when our health service is so stretched.

“SNP ministers must ensure there are robust security systems in place for our public buildings, including hospitals.”

Margaret Watt, chair of the Scotland Patients Association, suggested health bosses explore the prospect of attaching alarms to medical equipment.

She said: “I don’t think security is robust enough and I think more can be done. There’s very expensive machinery going missing as well. The health service cannot afford that and they need to do something about it.

“Some patients don’t have a lot of money and it could be something really precious to them that is stolen. I think we need to take that seriously.”

It comes after Shelley Fisher, of East Calder, raised more than £700 to replace Xbox controllers and DVDs which had been stolen from a playroom at Sick Kids. The mum-of-three launched the bid after taking her 14-year-old son for an operation in July.

Health bosses moved to reassure patients that all electrical equipment is encrypted to prevent the theft of medical records.

George Curley, director of facilities at NHS Lothian, said: “NHS Lothian takes issues of security seriously, and we are concerned and disappointed when any items are stolen. We have a wide range of precautions in place to prevent theft, including CCTV on all our premises and electronic card access systems in unauthorised areas, and we regularly work with police to safeguard our resources.

“All of our electrical equipment, including laptops and memory sticks, is encrypted, to ensure that any patient identifiable data is safe. We remind staff to be vigilant and patients and visitors to be careful with their possessions, and to report incidents or suspicions. Thefts are always fully investigated, and we involve the police when appropriate.”

lizzy.buchan@edinburghnews.com