My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Health (Patricia Hewitt) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
The department has been made aware of an incident on 25 April, whereby personal data held on the Medical Training Application Service (MTAS) were made available through unauthorised channels.
The security breach concerned the application details of medical students applying to the foundation programme.
This breach had no impact on the current recruitment of junior doctors into specialty training.
The data were accessible only for a short time on 25 April. Details of the website address were leaked to the media. The MTAS team removed the data as soon as the error was brought to their attention. The department, of course, deplores such leaks.
On 26 April the department was made aware of some problems on the MTAS site. We have therefore decided to suspend the site while we perform full independent security tests. We expect the suspension to have minimal impact on the current round of recruitment into specialty training.
We take security very seriously and the breaches are under urgent investigation by the department. This investigation will seek to establish how the security breaches arose, who accessed any data without authorisation and what steps need to be taken to prevent a recurrence.
I will keep the House updated on further developments.