Breast Screening
Cervical Screening
Bowel Screening
Diabetic Retina Screening

Focus on protecting patient data continues as record management project is completed

By Brenda Ryan,

Head of Client Services, National Screening Service

This year our Client Services Department, which looks after screening participant records, has been working on a records management project. This project is part of our Information Governance Strategy.

Information governance sets out the rules through which we make sure that personal information (such as that contained in a health record) is handled properly.

Good information governance enables personal health information to be:

  • Held - securely and confidentially
  • Obtained - fairly and efficiently 
  • Recorded - accurately and reliably 
  • Used - effectively and ethically
  • Shared - appropriately and lawfully.

An effective records management system has many benefits. These include:

  • Better management decision-making
  • Keeping us in line with regulations and cutting down the risk of things going wrong
  • Keeping important data and information safe
  • Stopping too many records being created or kept
  • Making it easy to find records
  • Setting out clear steps on what records should be disposed of and how to do this
  • Making the best use of public money, and staff time and effort.

In this project we wanted to look at the data held by all four screening programmes – BreastCheck, CervicalCheck, BowelScreen and Diabetic RetinaScreen - and all departments within the National Screening Service (NSS).

Our aim was to make sure all areas of the NSS use the same process to create, store and dispose of data. We wanted to make sure we are in line with data protection laws and HSE policy and best practice guidelines in this area.            

The project has taken six months to complete. Our key objectives were:

  • To create an inventory (list) of all NSS records
  • To create a policy and a procedure for the way we keep, and the way we dispose of, records.

Our core project team was:

  • Brenda Ryan (project lead)
  • Geraldine Brady (project lead)
  • Nina Dempsey (project support).

While we have been working on this project, the HSE Data Protection Officer (DPO) has been updating the HSE’s Retention Policy. Our records management project team and corporate management team have helped with this process.

Now that we are happy with our policy and our procedure for managing our records, we are asking for our policy – which we have called the ‘Policy and Procedure for Records Retention and Disposal Management’ - to be approved by our Information Governance Steering Group this month, November 2021.

When the policy is approved, it will be rolled out by Colette Brett, our Head of Quality, Safety and Risk Department. The Information Governance Steering Group will help us as we implement our policy.

If you have questions about this project you can contact Colette Brett at


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