Last year, the Department of Health updated its guidance on records management. The Code is a comprehensive and user-friendly guide to the required standards of practice in the management of records for those who work within or under contract to NHS organisations in England. It will also be of great interest to non-NHS healthcare providers.

Of particular interest to both individuals and organisations who hold health records will be the “Health Records Retention Schedule” (Annex D1 to the Code). The Schedule sets out in alphabetical order, the minimum periods of retention for all different types of health records, including, for example:

? abortion

? the Child Protection Register

? clinical trials

? hospital acquired infection and

? human fertilisation, including embryology.

The Schedule also details requirements for the disposal of different types of records, once the minimum period for their retention has expired. Those holding records outside of an NHS context should bear in mind their insurers’ requirements for retention of records, alongside the Department of Health guidance.