Health Records Clerk

The Job and What's Involved

Health records clerks are responsible for managing the information that makes up a patient's health record or file. They collate, organise, retrieve and archive documents, making sure that the files are accessible and available to staff when they are needed. Well-maintained health records are vital to medical staff.

Health records staff may also be referred to as medical records staff, clinical records officers, health records assistants and ward clerks.

The National Health Service (NHS) is introducing a system of electronic health records for every member of the population, which will allow clinicians online access. Increasingly, the job will involve entering data on to computers, scanning documentation and checking against the manual records to make sure all the details are correct.

Most clerks work in hospitals and clinics. Typical jobs might be:

Outpatient Reception - dealing with patients who have hospital appointments.

Admissions Clerk - dealing with patients being admitted to hospital for treatment.

Ward Clerk - supporting the staff and patients on a particular hospital ward.

Clinic Clerk - supporting the staff and patients of a clinic.

In each of these roles, the duties are likely to include:

  • Greeting patients and making appointments.
  • Booking in patients and confirming that contact details are correct.
  • Dealing with correspondence and enquiries.
  • Locating files, organising them for the day's appointments, and replacing and filing documentation at the end of the day.
  • Organising samples for collection, chasing up test results and filing them once received.
  • Making sure that files are logged in and out of the department.
  • Looking for missing files and chasing up documentation.
  • Making sure that records of admissions, transfers, discharges and deaths are updated immediately and that the appropriate authorities or departments are notified.
  • Gathering statistical data.

Most jobs will involve contact with patients, and all clerks have daily contact with hospital staff, including other administrative staff, as well as doctors, nurses and other specialists.

Most health records clerks work between 9.00am and 5.30pm, Monday to Friday, although some jobs may require shift work and weekends. There may be part-time and job share opportunities.

Some aspects of the role require candidates to be fit and healthy. Records may be kept in storage areas with high shelves.

The work is office based, though some offices are in clinical areas of hospitals. Some clerks help to transport the records throughout the building and take them to the appropriate department or health practitioner. In some hospitals, clerks wear a uniform provided by the employer.

The starting salary for a health record clerk is around £13,200 a year. With experience, a health records clerk may earn £16,350 a year. Those promoted to a senior clerk or team leader may earn between £18,150 and £21,300 a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

There are around two million people employed in the health sector across the UK. The NHS is the largest employer of health records staff. It is estimated that there are over 30,000 people employed in various roles, taking into account the variety of job titles and differences in service provision. There are also opportunities with independent organisations, including private hospitals and voluntary organisations.

Vacancies are advertised in the local and national press. Opportunities can also be found on the website's of NHS Trusts and local authorities or on the NHS jobs website. Jobs may also be advertised on other recruitment websites.

Education and Training

There are no formal entry requirements, but employers are likely to ask for evidence of good English, maths and IT skills and may ask for business administration skills.

As well as GCSE's (A*-C), useful qualifications may include:

  • NVQ Level 1 or 2 in business and administration.
  • BTEC Certificate or Diploma in business

The Diploma in society, health or in business, administration and finance may also be relevant for this area of work.

It may be possible to train through an Apprenticeship in business and administration.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships, Careers Wales www.careerswales.com; and for Northern Ireland contact www.careersserviceni.com.

It may help to have some relevant administration or records work experience.

To work with children or vulnerable adults, applicants need to undergo checks through the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB).

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Training is on the job. There are structured, in-house training programme's.

Employers may offer NVQ's at Levels 2 and 3 in health-related subjects or in business administration, support services and customer care.

The Institute of Health Record and Information Management (IHRIM) offers qualifications at various levels. These allow staff working in the field of health records, health information and clinical coding to acquire a qualification appropriate to their discipline, knowledge and skill level. The qualifications are:

  • Foundation, for those with 12 months' experience of health records work.
  • Certificate of Technical Competence, for those who have passed the Foundation exam.
  • Diploma.

Examinations are held annually at a number of centres around the UK and overseas.

Some employers may offer opportunities to study for foundation degrees.

Many employers offer opportunities for staff to develop their skills through continuing professional development (CPD).

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A health records clerk should:

  • Have good interpersonal and communication skills.
  • Be organised, efficient and logical.
  • Pay attention to detail.
  • Be able to work in a team, as well as using his or her initiative.
  • Be calm and able to put people at ease.
  • Be flexible and adaptable.
  • Be discreet, as patient records are confidential.
  • Be honest, reliable and committed.
  • Be motivated and enthusiastic.
  • Be numerate.
  • Be computer literate.

Your Long Term Prospects

Promotion is possible to supervisory and management roles, such as health records service manager or patient services manager.

There are also opportunities to move into other parts of the NHS within other administrative areas or within the wider health information team. Others choose to move to a different NHS employer, or the independent or voluntary sectors.

There may be opportunities to work overseas.

Get Further Information

Institute of Health Record and Information Management (IHRIM),
744a Manchester Road, Castleton, Rochdale OL11 3AQ
Tel: 01706 868481
Website: www.ihrim.co.uk

NHS Careers,
PO Box 2311, Bristol BS2 2ZX
Tel: 0845 606 0655
Websites: www.nhscareers.nhs.uk, www.jobs.nhs.uk and www.stepintothenhs.nhs.uk

Skills for Health, 2nd Floor,
Goldsmiths House, Broad Plain, Bristol BS2 0JP
Tel: 0117 922 1155
Website: www.skillsforhealth.org.uk

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