A laptop holding more than 5,000 patient records has been taken from the outpatients department of a Midlands hospital, the Press Association has reported.

The laptop was taken from the outpatients department at Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley in early January. The hospital has confirmed it contains a database with information on 5,123 patients with a blood disorder.

Affected patients have been sent letters warning that their personal details have been stolen and West Midlands police have launched an investigation.

As well as medical data, the stolen records include names, addresses and birth dates. It is understood the data was password-protected but not encrypted.

Trust chief executive Paul Farenden said the laptop, a Fujitsu Siemens C Series Lifebook, had not been fitted with a new data security system currently being implemented by the hospital.

“Clearly this is a serious issue” he said. “We take precautions to try and protect all the IT equipment in our hospitals from theft, but given this is a public building with thousands of people accessing it every day, there are inevitably practical difficulties around security.”