A hospital worker has been suspended in connection with the discovery in a supermarket car park of a computer storage device, which held medical records of patients being treated at a secure hospital.

The memory stick - found by a 12-year-old boy in Stenhousemuir, near Falkirk, according to the Daily Record newspaper - apparently held the criminal history of some violent patients being held in the Tryst Park unit of Bellsdyke Hospital. The unit looks after adults with poor mental health.

An NHS Forth Valley spokeswoman said: “We have clear policies in place on the safe use of portable data devices. We can confirm a member of staff has been suspended in connection with this incident.”

The storage device is reportedly on its way back to NHS Forth Valley.

A month ago the hospital admitted it had lost all the records of patients receiving treatment at its audiology department. It blamed a computer failure at Forth Valley for the loss.

A Scottish government spokesman said: “We expect the highest standards of data security from everyone working in the NHS.

“Leaving patient records on an unencrypted memory stick in a car park is clearly a major breach of those standards and, as a result, NHS Forth Valley has suspended a member of staff.

“To suggest there has been ‘no effective action’ taken is simply wrong.

“The Scottish government set tough new rules for health boards 18 months ago making clear that patient-identifiable data must not be stored on unencrypted memory sticks or laptops - and £1m was given to boards to make those changes.

“We expect NHS Forth Valley to take the appropriate action to deal with this violation of the rules and to ensure it does not happen again.”