HC Deb 10 July 2003 vol 408 cc1007-8W
Brian Cotter

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action his Department is taking against hospital trusts who fail to keep the records of patients with lifelong conditions for the required period after their deaths; and if he will make statement. [124893]

Ms Rosie Winterton

The Department of Health does not directly monitor or enforce record-keeping arrangements in national health service trusts or strategic health authorities (SHA). Each NHS trust and SHA is legally responsible for managing records and complying with legislation and guidance on disclosing information.

In the NHS, guidance and governance arrangements have been designed to ensure compliance with law and good practice, while minimising the overheads of managing and auditing detailed procedures. Independent authorities, such as the Audit Commission, Health Service Commissioner and Information Commissioner, oversee the governance arrangements and may impose sanctions where there is a significant failure to comply.

Trusts keep records to support patient care and other legal requirements, but it is also necessary to destroy records when they are of no further value. Destruction should be controlled by formal retention and disposal arrangements based on the NHS Retention and Disposal Schedule issued by the Department of Health.