THE personal details of hundreds of elderly and vulnerable people have been found discarded in a street.

A 133-page document with the names, date of birth, address and social security numbers of around 800 people, being looked after by Carewatch Essex, was found on a pavement in Vicarage Close, Canvey.

The discovery has raised serious concerns about what could have happened if it fell into the wrong hands, with the most vulnerable in the community put at risk.

Carewatch provides care and support services for elderly in their own homes. On its website, Carewatch Essex boasts “the highest standards of care and support” for its users.

The resident who found the book contacted Carewatch using an e-mail address on the firm’s website, as soon as she found the document on Saturday.

But the primary school teacher, 41, who asked not to be named, handed over the file to the Echo on Monday, after hearing nothing from the company.

The resident said: “I spotted it lying in the street outside my home and thought it was a school book. When I saw it still lying there a bit later, I went to have a look at it and found it contained the names, ages, addresses and telephone numbers of elderly people from all over Essex. I was astonished.

“I found the website and left a message saying I had a confidential document, but I heard nothing.

“It had just been left lying there for anyone to pick up. It could have been stolen or just dropped, but no one called to ask for it back.”

Fortunately the file was picked up by the resident.

She added: “With this information, anyone could have posed as a council worker to gain access to a vulnerable elderly person’s home, or they could steal someone’s identity.

“It really is disgraceful this has been allowed to happen.”

Jan Reed, general manager of the Hadleigh-based branch of Carewatch, which cares for people throughout south-east Essex, initially said she was unaware of the lost document.

She later confirmed an employee had reported the loss on Sunday.

She said: “This is being dealt with internally.

“All I can say is thank you to the person who handed it in.

“We can only assume, if it was found on the street, the care worker slipped, but we are continuing our investigations.”

The loss was not reported to police.