NHS Tayside has had to pay out more than £16,000 in compensation to patients who had items lost or stolen while they were in hospital over the past three years.
The items, which included a £4,490 ring, a £2,999 hearing aid and £1,995 in cash, had been handed over for safekeeping in Ninewells Hospital by patients between 2016 and 2019.
Other items included clothing, razors, dentures, trainers, glasses, a mobile phone and an iPod taken from Ninewells, as well as Perth’s Murray Royal Hospital, the Royal Victoria Hospital, Perth Royal Infirmary, Crieff Community Hospital, Kingsway Care Centre in Dundee and Stracathro Hospital, near Brechin.
NHS Tayside has advised patients and visitors to avoid bringing valuables to hospital.
A spokesperson for the health board said: “The public should be reassured that every effort is made to ensure the safety of their personal belongings whilst they are in hospital.
“Staff and members of the public are advised not to bring any valuable items or large sums of money into hospital.
“Staff are encouraged to report all incidents of missing items no matter how small.
“NHS Tayside takes any alleged incident of theft seriously and works closely with Police Scotland and acts on their advice as appropriate.
“Similarly to other large organisations, NHS Tayside has security arrangements in place at a number of sites to keep the premises safe and minimise the risk of damage, unauthorised access and theft.
“There are also procedures in place to deal with patients who arrive into hospital with cash or valuables in their possession.”
The spokesman explained that NHS Tayside will not accept responsibility for the security of patient’s valuables unless these are recorded and handed over for safe keeping and a receipt is issued.”
He added: “If these items are then lost and a claim is submitted and validated through our processes, compensation may be paid.”
North East region Scottish Conservative MSP Bill Bowman expressed concern about the amount of compensation having to be paid out, where the money could be put to better use.
“The safest place for valuables is at home”, he said.
“Hospitals and surgery wards are extremely busy places where health is the priority.
“Scotland’s NHS boards need to use their scarce resources to treat patients – Tayside is no exception.
“These insurance costs and compensation payments could have been used to reduce waiting times.”