Hundreds of highly confidential medical documents including a parents’ plea for help for her mentally ill daughter have been found dumped in a nurse's backyard.

The documents, found in see-through recycle bags in easy reach of passers-by, contained sensitive information about patients from across South London including names, addresses and whether they had arthritis, bunions, results on smear tests and requests for tablets to enhance "sex performance".

One letter from an anxious parent appealed for intervention to help her mentally ill child who she said was at risk of harm from herself and other people.

Most of the data was addressed to Dr Sabji Sultan, who lives in Sutton, for his surgery in Mitcham Road, Tooting and was found in John Gallon’s backyard in Victoria Rd, Sutton.

Neighbours' believe it was left there for three weeks.

When questioned by the Sutton Guardian, Dr Sultan apologised “unreservedly” and said he had entrusted the data to Mr Gallon, who worked at the surgery, to “shred or burn” the material when it moved premises further along the street.

But Mr Gallon, 80, a practice nurse, said he was “only giving a helping hand”.

Wandsworth Primary Care Trust said it has reported the incident to the Information Commissioner and had retrieved all the records and stored them securely.

Di Caulfeild-Stoker, senior information risk governor, said the PCT was also investigating Dr Sultan's practice.

She said: “We were shocked and dismayed to have been informed that records containing patients information have been treated in this manner.

“Security of patient information is paramount and as part of their contract with NHS Wandsworth, all GP practices are duty bound to adhere to strict data protection guidelines and information governance regulations, requiring extreme sensitivity when handling patient records.

“The practice has reassured us that they are making every effort to inform all the patients involved, and where necessary we will support them in doing so."

GPs are responsible for secure storage and correct disposal of patient data.

Guidelines say data should only be destroyed once scanned and stored securely onto the practice’s computer system.

GPs are advised to destroy it using a shredder or have it collected for shredding by a reputable company.

Data should not be removed from the practice if it carries out the procedure itself.

MP Paul Burstow said it was “shocking” the data had been left in a backyard.

He said: “The PCT needs to satisfy itself that the correct procedures are in place at this surgery.”

Mr Gallon said: "The doctor told me to take the records home and burn them, because the department was moving and there was a lot of of stuff lying around.

"An Englishman's home is his castle. This is a private garden and a private road and no one has a right to trespass and steal anything in my garden.

"I had already burned one lot and my only regret is that I didn't burn the other lot sooner. I was just giving a helping hand, which has now been thrown back in my face."

Dr Sultan said: “I unreservedly apologise as to what has happened and I meant no harm to anybody.

“As a GP I made arrangements for John Gallon to take it. He was supposed to shred it or burn it.

“What else can I say, I'm shocked. I'm so sorry.”

A spokesperson for the Information Commissioners Office said it would be “looking into how this security breach occurred and establishing the full facts.”

If any of the practices' patients have any concerns they should call 020 8487 6322 or email

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