How to become an Health Records Clerk. Read through our comprehensive job guide to learn more about this career in the UK.
What does an Health Records Clerk do?
As a health records clerk (sometimes known as a medical records or ward clerk), it would be your job to keep patients’ medical records up to date, and make sure that their information is available to medical staff when they need it.
Your main duties would include:
- finding and checking patient records
- creating new records and updating existing ones on the computer system
- filing records
- forwarding test specimens to laboratories
- storing test results and letters with the right patient records
- greeting patients, booking appointments and dealing with enquiries from GPs
- recording illnesses and treatments using a system of codes (known as ‘clinical coding’)
- recording patient admissions, transfers, discharges and deaths
- inputting details from paper records to a computer system
- collecting statistics such as number of admissions, discharges and waiting lists.
You might carry out all of these duties, or you could specialise in one area such as filing, admissions or clinical coding.
In a full-time job you would work 37.5 hours a week. Some hospital departments, particularly accident and emergency, provide a full 24-hour service which may involve shift work or permanent nights. Part-time work may be available.
You could work in an office, a reception area, filing room, medical records library or on a hospital ward.
How much does an Health Records Clerk earn?
Salary and pay information:
- Full-time salaries can be between £16,653 and £19,753 a year for clerks.
- Team leaders can earn up to £25,188.
- Clinical coding specialists earn between £25,152 and £33,534 a year.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
You should have previous experience of office work, including word processing and spreadsheet computer packages.
You will need a good standard of general education and you may have an advantage with some GCSEs (A-C) including English and maths, or a similar level of qualification.
You may be able to get into this job through an Apprenticeship scheme. The range of Apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local jobs market and the types of skills employers need from their workers. To find out more, visit the Apprenticeships website.
Alternatively, you may be able to build useful experience by getting onto an NHS administrative and clerical work placement. Visit the NHS Professionals website to find out more.
- NHS Professionals
Employers may carry out a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check before you can start work.
- Criminal Records Bureau
Training and Development
You will receive induction training when you start your job, followed by on-the-job training by experienced staff plus any formal in-house courses that you might need.
Your training may include the chance to work towards one of the following:
- Institute of Health Record Information and Management (IHRIM) Foundation, Intermediate Certificate and Diploma
- NVQ Level 2 in Support Services in Health Care (Health Records and Patient Administration).
To take the IHRIM Certificate, you will usually need five GCSEs (A-C) including English and maths. You will also need some practical experience of working in health records. You may be accepted without the standard qualifications if you have enough relevant work experience – contact IHRIM for advice.
You can study for the IHRIM Certificate and Diploma exams by full- or part-time courses at colleges or regional branches of the IHRIM. You could also study by distance learning the Foundation Degree in Health Informatics through the University of Central Lancashire.
IHRIM also offers work-based Certificates of Technical Competence in Medical Records Practice and the National Clinical Coding Qualification. See IHRIM website for more details.
Skills and Knowledge
- an organised and efficient approach
- a high level of accuracy and attention to detail
- a patient, helpful and tactful manner
- calmness under pressure
- good communication skills
- the ability to deal with people who may be anxious or upset
- teamworking ability
- good computer and administrative skills
- respect for confidentiality
- an interest in health and medicine.
You could work in an NHS hospital, or in a GP surgery, private hospital or the Armed Forces.
Jobs may be advertised in the local press, health service journals and on the NHS Jobs website.
With experience, you could specialise in clinical coding, or progress to team leader and higher management roles.