Hospitals in Leeds paid out nearly £60,000 in compensation in five years to patients whose belongings were lost or stolen – including £12,000 for a Rolex watch.
Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust paid £3,000 of the bill for the designer timepiece, while the remaining cost was covered by the trust’s insurers.
The organisation’s total compensation payout for lost and stolen property was the biggest in Yorkshire.
Across the region more than £273,000 was spent on compensating patients over five years.
A request under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that between 2007 and 2012, the Leeds trust received 422 claims from patients for lost property. Another 15 made claims for stolen items.
A total of 204 compensation cases were paid by the hospitals during five years, totalling £57,283.
The highest payout was £11,890 for the Rolex, with others including £3,015 for a lost engagement ring, £2,325 for three lost rings and £2,098 for lost hearing aids.
Dentures, clothing, glasses, jewellery and cash were the items most commonly lost.
A spokesman for Leeds Teaching Hospitals said every theft was unacceptable but more than a million patients were seen each year and most encountered no problems.
Security was taken very seriously, he added, but many of their buildings had to remain accessible 24 hours a day.
“It is a sad fact that criminals do strike in hospitals but our message to them is that we are not an easy target. During the same five-year period we have made a significant investment in our security infrastructure, particularly our network of hundreds of high-tech cameras linked to an advanced control room – and as a result we have seen a number of people pursued and successfully convicted through the courts.
“We work closely with colleagues in the police service and take a hard line, always prosecuting people who steal from patients and from our hospitals.
“We would urge everyone coming into hospital as a patient or visitor to help our fight by taking sensible precautions to safeguard their own property.
“A hospital isn’t the place to bring expensive jewellery, watches or large amounts of cash – while ward staff can and do lock up personal property it is much better to leave it at home in a safe place or with a relative or friend you trust.”
Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust did not provide information.