To shred, or not to shred...

We’re drowning in paperwork. It’s everywhere, taking over our desks, overflowing from our bins.

When you start running your private practice, you’ll soon face a mountain of paperwork. Client information, bills, receipts, invoices, treatment plans, copies of reports, accounts....the list is endless.

Why shred?

In light of the most recent Data Protection Act and the General Data Protection Regulation, there are some items that you really must shred to protect yourself and your clients. It will protect you, your clients and suppliers against fraud and identity theft. A shredder will be one of your most useful pieces of home office equipment. 

What private practices should shred

Before you start, read our articles on record-keeping and data protection. They will help you decide what you need to shred and what you need to keep hold of.

When it comes to financial information in particular, it’s good practice to keep accounting and tax records for at least five years, so you’ll need some lockable, fireproof filing cabinets or some secure storage. 

You should also keep records of your clients, so that you can refer back to them for insurance purposes. These should be kept for at least seven years.

Remember that instead of paper you can keep all records digitally. It really can save a lot of time and effort and will protect your clients from unauthorised disclosure. 

Based on the above information, here's what you may wish to shred (after the appropriate time has elapsed):

  • anything that contains the personal details of clients or suppliers
  • copies of client medical records and treatment plans
  • clients’ payment details
  • handwritten notes from clinical sessions
  • accounting records
  • bank or credit card statements
  • business and client contracts
  • job applications from prospective employees
  • payroll information
  • CPD information

Unsure about whether to shred?

If you are ever in doubt, think about whether the information is confidential or of a sensitive nature. Does it contain personal information, or financial information? If so, shred.

Shredding services

If you have a lot of information to shred, and it is becoming overwhelming, or you hold a lot of sensitive information, you can subcontract shredding to a professional company. They can give you secure boxes to place paperwork in, and will collect it at regular intervals. Paperwork will be shredded using advanced equipment so that it can never be reconstructed.

What about ’shredding’ digital information?

If you have information on hard discs, CDs or DVDs, these, too, may need to be destroyed at some point. Some professional paper shredders will also offer this service.

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