The Department of Health updated its Code of Practice on records management in January 2009.

The code contains updated minimum retention periods for records and makes clear that the maximum retention period for records should be 30 years, although this can be extended in certain circumstances.

The schedule setting out each type of record, recommended route for disposal and the retention period is clearly coded, making it easy to identify those types of records that are “new additions” or “changed entries” as compared to the content of the previous code. New additions include records as diverse as ambulance/paramedic records, clinical protocols, records of de-registered patients, angiography discs, diaries belonging to health visitors, district nurses and allied health professionals, mental health records, audit trails and theatre lists.

Retention periods have changed for some classes of record, including clinical psychology notes, joint replacement records, learning disability records and child protection register entries. There is also a whole new section on child health records.

For full details of the new Code of Practice can be found here.