Health Records staff

Each NHSScotland patient has a record of their treatment and care, which needs to be accurate and up to date. Health Records staff are responsible for managing these patient health records, which can be paper-based documents or electronic records.

Records about patients have to be kept safely and confidentially. They have to meet government and legal requirements for data protection.

Health Records staff are also known as Medical Records staff.

As a Health Records Clerk, you would be responsible for organising, updating and storing patient health records. The job involves working closely with other Administrative staff and members of the wider healthcare team. Health Records staff working on a ward, in a clinic or health centre may have a lot of contact with patients, their relatives and carers.

If you work in health records within NHSScotland, you could be based in:

  • hospital wards of all types
  • specialist departments or clinics
  • GP surgeries and health centres
  • a health records department of a territorial or special health board

The typical duties of a Health Records clerk will include:

  • finding, checking and updating patient records
  • archiving old records
  • filing
  • recording patient admissions, transfers and discharges
  • collating statistics
  • using clinical coding to record illnesses and treatments on patient records
  • transferring paper-based patient records on to an electronic system
  • booking appointments for patients
  • dealing with queries from GPs and other healthcare professionals

In some healthcare settings, you would carry out all of these tasks, as well as answering the telephone and reception duties. If you are working in a team of Health Records Clerks, you may specialise in a particular area, such as admissions or clinical coding.

Useful skills include:

  • excellent organisational skills
  • accuracy and attention to detail
  • good IT skills
  • good customer service skills
  • excellent communication skills
  • a confident telephone manner

Useful abilities include:

  • the ability to work in a team but use your own initiative
  • the ability to follow instructions and procedures
  • the ability to reassure people who might be anxious or upset
  • the ability to remain calm under pressure

Health Records Clerks are likely to need a good standard of English and Maths. Some office experience and basic IT skills are useful skills to have for this role.

The specific entry requirements will depend on the role. The qualifications asked for may also vary depending on the recruiting NHSScotland Board. You are advised to contact each individual Board to find out its specific entry requirements.

Modern Apprenticeships offer those aged over 16 paid employment with the opportunity to train for jobs at craft, technician and management level.

Modern Apprenticeships in Business and Administration at SCQF Level 5 or SCQF Level 6 are frameworks for people interested in working in business and administration, and customer service. Find out more about these Modern Apprenticeships on the Skills Development Scotland (SDS) website:

Healthcare Support (Non-clinical) at SCQF Level 6 and SCQF Level 7 is another framework for people interested in working in a healthcare setting in a non-clinical support role. For more information about this Modern Apprenticeship framework, look at:

Contact your local Board to find out if these Modern Apprenticeships are available in your area.

You will be encouraged to develop your career in NHSScotland and you will be given the training you need for the job including:

  • an introduction to the department and its procedures
  • health and safety
  • risk management

During your career, you may have the opportunity to study for additional qualifications, such as:

Look on the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) website to find the full range of qualifications on offer for staff working in business, administration, IT, finance and medical records.

Career pathways

Gaining new qualifications will help your career prospects, leading to more senior roles with a greater level of responsibility. You could become a Team Leader or even a Health Records Manager, responsible for the work of a health records department.

Some Health Records staff choose to move into more specialist roles such as Medical Secretary or Personal Assistant. Others move into areas such as finance or human resources.

Learn more about the NHSScotland Education Pathways for Business and Administration.

Health Records staff are able to join these professional bodies:

Institute of Health Records and Information Management (IHRIM)

IHRIM is the professional organisation and educational body in the UK for people working in health informatics, including health records, clinical coding, and information governance. Find out more on the IHRIM website.

The Skills Council for Administration (Skills CFA)

Skills CFA is a registered charity promoting skills and qualifications for businesses and those working in business and administration roles. Find out more on the Skills CFA website.

The Institute of Administrative Management (IAM)

IAM is the professional body and UK government-recognised awarding body offering qualifications in Administrative Management. Find out more on the IAM website.