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Practice dilemma: Shredding non-clinical records

During a premises move, a practice manager wants to shred some old appointment books and practice leaflets. What are the rules on this? Our legal expert gives advice.

The NHS Code of Practice on Records Management includes an Annex (D2) which makes recommendations on the retention of non-clinical records [1]. It suggests that appointment records are retained for a minimum of two years, provided that any patient-relevant information has been transferred to the clinical records.

However, it adds that ‘at the end of the two year retention period GP practices should consider if there is an ongoing administrative need to keep the records/books for longer.' It also recommends as a minimum that patient information leaflets should be retained for six years after the leaflet has been superseded.

MDU experience has shown that minutes of practice meetings, information from the surgery's home visit record books or even superseded practice leaflets can be helpful when answering a complaint or defending a claim, sometimes many years after the event. This is because they provide a complete picture of practice policies and procedures, so it is important that such documents are retained for as long as possible.

Dr Emma Cuzner is a medico-legal adviser at the Medical Defence Union

patient leaflets