The Information Commissioner's Office is seeking significant improvements in the way the Department of Health manages and retains its records.

The ICO has issued a formal practice recommendation to the department after an assessment found local managers, given responsibility for record management, had developed inconsistent practices.

The ICO said senior managers must do more to ensure that good behaviours and practices are reinforced, especially where there are organisational changes.

The assessment found that there are good central policies and guidance in place.

Benefit, not burden

Assistant information commissioner Gerrard Tracey said: "Existing guidance states that good records management should be seen as a benefit, not a burden. All organisations, public and private, are advised to have good records management as part of achieving business efficiency, by making sure that information is easily retrieved and properly documented."

This is the second practice recommendation the ICO has issued to the Department of Health for failing to meet its requirements under the Freedom of Information Act. In April 2008, the department was served a practice recommendation in relation to its handling of freedom of information requests.

Read the practice recommendation