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Filing clients’ records - what you need to know

Filing is not an exciting topic. Many practitioners are now choosing to eradicate paper wherever possible, keeping all their documents digitally. Have a look at our article on document management for more on that. 

However, if you do prefer to keep paper records, such as accounting information, copies of invoices and client notes, it’s vital to have a clear system in place. With good filing, you will be better organised. You’ll be able to lay your hands on exactly WHAT you need, WHEN you need it - saving time and money.

The law

As a business, you must comply with the Data Protection Act (2018) and the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into effect in May 2018. You’ll no doubt have heard a lot about GDPR at the time. 

These laws are designed to protect the information of everyone that you deal with, in particular your clients. They trust you to keep your information secure and confidential, and the law lays out the ways in which you must do that. 

To find out more about Data Protection and how it affects therapy businesses, go here.

What do you need to file?

You may have paper copies of:

  • client names, addresses, medical records and treatment plans
  • bank and credit card statements
  • business and marketing plans and reports
  • records such as medico-legal reports
  • copies of emails or letters
  • receipts, bills and supplier invoices
  • meeting reports
  • accounting records
  • CPD records
  • employee details
  • details of accountants, bookkeepers, etc
  • copies of insurance cover


There’s a huge choice of filing cabinets and storage solutions for the home office. The most important thing to remember is that they should be lockable, fireproof and sturdy. Security is an important aspect of the Data Protection Act. Ideally, filing cabinets should also be kept in a locked room.

Good filing practice

  • segment your files into areas, such as the ones described above
  • organise them alphabetically, or by date, whichever seems most appropriate for the type of file
  • clearly label each hanging file
  • don’t overfill hanging files - they’ll just break and spill their contents into the bottom of the filing cabinet
  • decide how often you will cull your files, and keep a record of your decision so that you can answer any questions from clients

When to destroy paper records

Try not to hang onto paper records for the sake of it. As described above, decide when you will cull your files and do so regularly. For example, when you have finished your work with a client, scan all important information for insurance purposes, and then shred your paper records. Remember to read our article about Document Management (link at the beginning of this article). 

If you have financial information on paper, such as a suppliers’ bank details, again you should consider shredding it. You can always ask for the information again should you need it, or save it digitally.