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Records management

Records management is defined by the International Standard on Information and Documentation – Records Management ISO 15489: 2016 (part 1 s3.16) as:

“[The] field of management responsible for the efficient and systematic control of the creation, receipt, maintenance, use and disposition [disposal process] of records, including processes for capturing and maintaining evidence of and information about business activities and transactions in the form of records."

Records and documents

The term ‘records and documents’ is used together and collectively in this policy to refer to all NHS Digital business information created, collected, received or disseminated through the course of its business activities or administration. This Policy therefore also applies to data and data sets.

When used alone records can be defined as:

“Information created, received and maintained as evidence and as an asset by an organisation or person in pursuit of legal obligations or in the transaction of business”. (Taken from ISO 15489-1:2016 section 3.14 p.2).

When used alone, documents can be defined as:

“recorded information or object which can be treated as a unit”. (Taken from ISO 15489-1: 2001 section 3.10 p.3). Documents are often more transient and less formal material e.g., draft material not subject to formal approval processes; becoming a record once formally approved. 


The term disposal is used to refer to an action at the close of a retention period.

This action can either be the process of destruction or deleting of records or documents beyond any future planned retrieval or reconstruction, or the transfer of records or documents to a place of deposit for permanent preservation on grounds of historical or research significance/importance.


The process of ensuring that records and document are retained by the business for the correct length of time in compliance with legal, regulatory and best practice guidelines and are not retained for longer than is necessary.


The processes involved in ensuring the technical and intellectual survival of records and documents of historical or research significance and their transfer to a place of permanent deposit such as The National Archives.

Last edited: 23 November 2021 11:44 am