HSE Emphasises Strict Rules Now Cover Patient Records

1st May 2008


The Health Service Executive would like to reassure the public that it currently has stringent records management procedures in place. With regard to the current incident in Cork, the situation is being assessed. However, initial inspection indicates that the records involved date back to pre 1983. The HSE is currently undertaking an in-depth investigation to establish the facts and determine how these files were disposed of inappropriately.


Since 1993, hospital records have been confidentially archived and stored indefinitely i.e. not disposed of. In May 2007, a National Hospitals Office (NHO) Code of Practice for Healthcare Records Management was launched. The Code of Practice was published by the National Hospitals Office as a guide to the required standards of practice in the management of healthcare records in the NHO. The Code of Practice was drafted by members of the National Hospitals Office Healthcare Records Management Steering Committee.


This Code of Practice was based on published guidance from expert bodies and existing best practice guidance and standards. Information was also sourced from various expert groups and reference sources. A national consultation process was undertaken and feedback, where appropriate, was incorporated into the final version of the Code. All hospitals are now developing action plans to implement the new code.


The Code provides:


  • A framework for consistent, coherent healthcare records management in the National Hospitals Office - applying to manual records and electronic records;
  • A reference point from which continual improvement and consultation can take place.


The Code applies to NHO hospitals and hospitals providing services on behalf of the Health Service Executive. Such a code is in keeping with the HSE's Transformation Programme - namely to develop integrated services across all stages of the care journey.


The Code of Practice is an evolving document because standards and practices in relation to healthcare records management will change over time. It will therefore be subject to regular review and updated as necessary.


Dr Mary Hynes, Assistant National Director with the National Hospitals Office, emphasised -


"The HSE places a high priority on patient confidentiality and views seriously any breaches of this basic patient right. Once the current situation was brought to our attention, our HSE colleagues in the South acted swiftly to ensure the site was secured. We are now investigating how this situation arose and apologise for any concerns it may have raised."



Alex Connolly

Head of Press and Media Relations

(01) 6352840

(087) 6184450


Last updated on: 01 / 05 / 2008