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Movement of patient records

Published on 30 June 2021

Most patients still have a paper medical record with historic detail. Current information is held electronically.

When a patient leaves a GP practice, the record should be returned to us in a courier bag. This will then be transferred to the new practice.

Data is stored by us if the patient has died, are abroad, or their whereabouts are unknown.

When a de-registration message is sent, this starts the process to request the medical records. Your practice will receive reminders until we receive the records.

Courier arrangements

Records are transferred between GP practices using a variety of couriers. These include NHS board vans, small independents and large national companies.

Collection and delivery is usually a weekly service. The courier will drop off an Envopak(s) to the GP practice and collect any for return to us.

Where we cannot use these, we use Royal Mail postal services.

We transfer records between our three sites and between NHS England and NHS Wales using TNT services.

How to transfer electronic records

Electronic patient records allow GP practices to record clinical information and hold scanned documents that no longer need to be on paper.

They also allow for faster transfer between practices when a patient moves in Scotland.

GP2GP transfers

You can use the GP2GP transfer process to send electronic records to another practice. It reduces the level of data entry across GP practices.

GP2GP is designed around the existing Docman Transfer process.

A user guide is available for the GP2GP system. Please request a copy from your regional office.

You can also get guidance on summarising patient medical records onto electronic systems.

Transferring correspondence

Various types of correspondence can arrive at your GP practice after a patient has left.

These can include:

  • test results
  • hospital letters
  • final reports
  • post mortem reports.

Instead of sending this correspondence through the mail bags to Practitioner Services regional offices, GP practices can send this through the current DocMan Transfer export process.

This removes the paper correspondence from the paper record transfer system and streamlines current processes.

Guidance is available on transferring correspondence via DocMan for a patient that's left your practice. Please request a copy from your regional office.

Paper records should still be processed through existing channels.

What to do if a record is urgently required

The urgent request process speeds up the movement of medical records. This occurs where there is a demonstrated clinical need for the new GP practice to hold the records as soon as practically possible.

Sometimes, delays can happen in a record being transferred to a new GP practice.

If the need becomes urgent, contact us and we'll start the urgent records transfer process.

This involves direct contact with the previous practice, or with NHS England, Wales or Northern Ireland. Either it speeds up the release of the record, or it facilitates a quick exchange of the important information, i.e. a clinical summary.

In some cases, we may put your GP practice in direct contact with another to achieve a fast and positive response.

What to do when records are delayed or missing

You should receive electronic records within two weeks and paper records within six weeks.

If you think a record is delayed or may have gone missing, we can investigate and let you know.

We record on the Community Health Index (CHI) when a record is received and then sent out from our offices.

However we’re mainly reliant on the previous GP practice either exporting the electronic record, or retrieving the paper record and adding it to the next courier pick up.

Get in touch with our team

The Practitioner Services team can provide advice and support. Find the relevant contact and get in touch.