The NHS is planning to review the length of time it holds the GP records of de-registered patients.
The proposals emerged when the new Records Management Code of Practice for 2021 was published by the NHS last week.
It said: ‘We are proposing to review the retention time for de-registered GP records to ensure that the significant costs of retaining the records for 100 years are justified by the benefits they bring.
‘We will look, for example, at how many records are recalled and what the reasons are. ‘
De-registered refers to when a patient is no longer on the GP practice system and does not refer to patients still registered at a GP practice but have not needed to receive care.
If a patient has moved to another practice, their records would be sent to the new provider.
But if the reason for de-registration is unknown, the digital record is printed off and sent in paper form to NHS England and NHS Improvement.
The new code of practice includes guidelines on topics such as legal, professional, organisational and individual responsibilities when managing records.
It also advises on how to design and implement a records management system including advice on organising, storing, retaining and deleting records.
It urges organisations to move away from paper towards digital records.
This 2021 revision was conducted by NHSX and reflects feedback following a consultation which 50 organisations responded to including national stakeholders and local organisations.