Clean Desk Policy

Clean desk policies were initially introduced to ensure workspaces were clutter free, making them great looking spaces – ones that would also help increase productivity.  It allowed flexibility of working spaces, making sure desks weren’t purely owned by one person.

With the implementation of GDPR in 2018, it became even more imperative to have a clean desk policy to help keep companies GDPR compliant – ensuring confidential files and information weren’t seen by prying eyes or falling into the wrong hands. 

And now in 2020, a clean desk policy is now imperative – not only to make your business and office compliant with GDPR legislation, but also to make it more hygienic.  If your desk is cluttered with paperwork, post-it notes, mugs and other personal possessions, how can you ensure everything is thoroughly cleaned at the end of the day, ready for any of your staff to use it the following day.

But I’m still working from home – why would I need a clean desk policy?

A clean desk policy doesn’t only relate to those people who are now back in the office.  It’s now becoming clearer that many companies will be adopting new work from home policies for their staff post lockdown.

If you’re one of the many professionals that is still able to work from home, a clean desk policy is not just there simply to provider a clearer space for cleaning.

What would happen if you were to leave a confidential file at home on your desk, and the worst happened – you were broken into and that file was taken?  What would be the legal stance for you, or your company in terms of GDPR?

What if you leave important documents on the kitchen counter and coffee was spilled on them – those ones being the only copy to work from – what do you do?

What if you have an important video call with a colleague or a client and private documents are on display?

A clean desk policy will help you organise your work space – reducing your stress and giving you that peace of mind you need.  With some simple organisation, you can save time finding important documents and know that when you don’t need them, they’re safe and GDPR compliant.

With Flexible Storage Solutions we can offer you Business Document Storage, Financial Document Storage, Legal Document Storage and Medical Document Storage.  We’re fully compliant with GDPR data protection regulations, so you’re in the safest possible hands.  With our online file management service, we can index all of your business documents to make it easy for you to track and retrieve any of your files in storage, allowing you to have your space back at home and adhere to your clean desk policy…..and if the mood takes you, you can give your own workspace a quick wipe down!

The dreaded return to work

So working from home was your dream – no more early starts, the freedom to work in your pyjamas and avoiding the dreaded commute!!

Then lockdown began to ease…

In light of the current situation surrounding Covid-19, it is now more important than ever for those companies who are already open, or beginning to reopen, to implement a clean desk policy, not only for the security of documents but for your own staffs health and safety.

At Flexible Storage Solutions we can help you with the hire of our confidential waste disposal bins.  You can ensure maximum hygiene standards are maintained at all times in the office. A simple slot in the top of the bin allows you to simply drop the documents in, leaving yourself and the bin virus free.  No more office shredders, being operated by multiple people all day. 

We’ll ensure contactless deliveries and collections and replace the waste disposal bags when it’s convenient for you.  GDPR compliance is adhered to at every level; drivers and staff are vetted and DBS checked and your confidential waste has a certificate of destruction for every batch!

The New Normal For Legal Staff

For years now, the push for businesses to implement ‘’work from home policies’’ and practices has been a conversation piece that’s never really taken off. The legal profession is typically slow to change, but being forced into the situation by the global pandemic, it has become clear that legal work can be done effectively and efficiently whilst working from a home office, or the kitchen table.

Due to coronavirus, working from home has rapidly become the chosen way of doing business for many industries, including the law. According to a new study involving legal staff, nearly two thirds  of those who took part want to continue working from home after the lockdown restrictions are lifted. A third stating that not having to commute to the office was the top motivator, followed by not having to sit through so many meetings and a fifth cited the cost saving of not having to travel in daily.

What Happens Post-Lockdown?

Through talking to individuals within the legal profession, it has become clear that work from home policies are indeed going to outlast the pandemic, with many offices remaining empty and even closing, saving on rent, cleaning, parking and more. With this in mind, there are certain aspects of the working from home situation that requires a lot of care around handling confidential documents and the storing of these files.

Having access to a cloud based documentation is great and is very secure, however having physical copies of documentation around the house can cause its own problems. From family having access to the workspace where you complete your work, to the prying eyes and hands of children that can easily misplace something that they may have knocked off your desk or kitchen counter. Storing these documents at home can be overwhelming and can lead to your home office feeling cluttered and disorganised. Admin at home can be a large task too, with the cataloguing and managing of the legal records that you have started to accrue, this can be very time consuming, not to mention frustrating.

Adhering To GDPR Regulations

Legal documents should be securely stored but easily accessible, as some files such as wills will have to be retrieved at an indeterminate point in the future. The introduction of GDPR regulations in 2018 have made it more important than ever to ensure all of your legal documents, files, contracts and records are appropriately stored and easily retrieved.

At Flexible Storage Solutions, we collect, index and store all of your documents and legal records in our specialist archiving centre. Our storage services can be tailored to your specific needs and range from will storage to long-term ‘deep storage’ to an online file management service that gives you full access to manage and retrieve documents via the Flexible Storage Solutions website.

Legal Document Destruction And Confidential Waste

Legal documents and records can build up very quickly. Any files that are no longer useful or have exceeded their retention period will need to be securely destroyed. Do you have a confidential waste bin? Or are some legal documents ending up in a see through recycling bag that goes outside on a certain day of the week? Having a confidential waste bin located in your home office is a great way to ensure that the most sensitive of information and documentation is dealt with in the correct manner. Our team can arrange collection of the bins on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis dependent on your needs

At Flexible Storage Solutions, we can ensure that your confidential documents are professionally shredded with our fully licensed partner company, certification will be issued after every destruction.

By taking advantage of our legal document storage services, you can securely store, track, dispose of and manage all of your legal files without worrying about finding the space in your home office to keep them.

What Are The Benefits Of Document Storage Over Self Storage?

There is a lot to be said about self-storage and the ability to utilise off-site space for your business. When it comes to documentation storage though, on most occasions, you will be better off with a dedicated document storage facility.

Any business, no matter what size, will accumulate all types of paperwork that is subject to General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws. Managing large amounts of paperwork can become very time consuming and not very cost effective. A dedicated document storage service can help significantly with operations and assist in you remaining compliant. Let’s talk about some of the benefits of our dedicated document storage services.

1: Cost

It is a common misconception that document storage is far more expensive than self-storage services.

This is far from the truth.

Not only are the costs cheaper but there are also added financial benefits to outsourcing your storage and filing systems to a dedicated company. One of the main ones being that you do not have to employ or use existing staff to retrieve the documents. This saves on travel, staff hourly costs and training for the storage systems in place. Our team can have your documentation delivered to you from a simple phone call.

2: Barcoded and tracked boxes

Gone are the days of physical filing systems used to store location data about products and items. Using barcoded and tracked boxes we can efficiently access the location of all your important documents. This is the most effective way to keep track of your documentation. It means that within minutes your documentation can be located and sent for without any confusion or time wastage. Having an effective retrieval process can make the entire process of your important documentation retrieval seamless and hassle free.

3: Water and fire-proof storage

Fire and water damage are a very real risk for any stored items including important documentation. Although with normal items there are insurances and financial reimbursements, this will not cover the loss of the data within your documents. This is a very important factor for any type of document storage.

4: GDPR compliant

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR ) has become a huge part of modern day life within business. It is a term that covers a wide variety of data protection aspects within the industry. All GDPR conditions are met with our secure document storage services.

With data security being at the forefront of information storage we make sure that every aspect of your documentation storage is GDPR compliant. This means you can relax with the knowledge that there will be no data breaches or concerns while you use our premium service.

5: Your boxes and files retrieved as and when you need them

The last thing you want when you need access to important data is a bottleneck in the retrieval process. This is one of the main reasons to use a dedicated documentation storage service. Whatever you need is only a phone call or an email away. Using our top of the line inventory systems means we can retrieve any documentation you require quickly and efficiently in a timely manner. This means that if you have time critical documents that you need to get hold of you will not need to worry about things our end.

6: Up to date inventories

As with any form of data management, quick and hassle free access is a must. We have systems in place to allow for any requisition of data to be prompt and stress free.

We can produce up to date inventories of all your documentation whenever you need them. This service comes with the package and is useful for staying up to date with all your stored documents.

If you have anymore questions regarding storage of your important documentation then contact us today.

How Much Paper Gets Wasted In The UK Each Year?

In the UK, we use about 12.5 million tons of paper each year. The trees needed to produce this amount would cover about 21,000 square km – roughly the size of Wales. Comprising 20% of all waste in the UK, the amount of paper we throw away is substantial. If we recycled just 10% more paper each year, we’d save approximately 5 million trees. Given the scale of the issue in the UK it’s worth asking – who are the main offenders, and how can they reduce their paper waste? Let’s take a look. 

Offices 

Abandoned sheets in the photocopier, printed emails, and notebook scraps. Offices have long been known to be serial paper wasters. The average UK office worker uses approximately 10,000 sheets a year, and 75% of this ends up in the waste paper bin. Although sometimes it’s necessary to use paper – for example with legal and official documents – a lot of the time it’s not. A more considered use of paper in the office would do wonders to help reduce the UK’s overall paper wastage. 

How to reduce paper in the office 

  • Use cloud-based applications – It’s easier than ever to securely share information with colleagues and clients using the internet. Cloud-based applications provide an instant way to transfer information and often facilitate collaboration. Consider Google Docs for working on documents as a team, DropBox to share files, or Evernote to take notes during a meeting. Transferring common office functions like these to cloud-based applications will end up saving you reams of wasted paper. 
  • Be print aware – You can keep track of how much you’re printing by using print audit software and setting departmental printing budgets. Train staff on when to use the printer and perhaps incentivize limited use – a prize for the team that’s printed the least this month?
  • Invest in hardware –Consider doubling-up on computer monitors. Having two monitors reduces the need to print documents just for the sake of reference. 

Schools 

British schools churn through a lot of paper each year. Whether it’s down to exercise books, report cards, or papier-mache creations, schools account for masses of wasted paper. Each year, the average primary school student produces about 45kg of waste (split for the most part between food and paper waste), and each secondary school student is responsible for about 22kg. Even without considering the mounds of paper involved in school administration, this is a significant amount of rubbish. While a lot of tips for reducing office paper waste can be applied to schools, there are also some more specific actions that you can take. 

How to reduce school paper waste 

  • Paperless resources – Teachers can take advantage of resources that don’t involve paper. Integrating videos, music, or interactive games into a lesson makes it more engaging and avoids creating unnecessary waste. 
  • Email communications – Rather than sending out paper newsletters and reports, schools can simply share any information they want with parents and students by email. Not only does it reduce paper use, but they can actually track engagement with whoever they’re communicating with. 
  • Fewer exercise and textbooks –  We fully appreciate that not every school will have the funds to fully utilise tech in the classroom, but where possible, consider substituting exercise and textbooks with laptops and tablets. The tech provides a wealth of teaching opportunities whilst removing the need to throw out stacks of note-filled books every year. 

Hospitals 

Another area that contributes significantly to the UK’s paper waste is healthcare. The administrative burdens placed on health professionals in the NHS, for example, are often in the headlines. GPs want to spend more time diagnosing and treating patients, and less sifting through door-stop wedges of folders to find records. Added to this are paper prescriptions and a dizzying array of information leaflets, many of which are never actually read. The result of this flood of paper is not just a reduction in the efficiency of our health service, but an increase in costs – the NHS estimates that each trust spends on average between £500,000 – £1,000,000 a year on storing physical documents. To tackle this problem, in 2005 it launched the Paperless 2020 program – an initiative aimed at reducing the use of paper in the healthcare system through better use of technology. 

How to reduce hospital paper waste 

  • Digital medical records – With medical records stored on a secure server, health professionals can access and update across different hospitals and departments – leading to a faster, more efficient service. 
  • Digital prescriptions – Rather than distributing prescriptions in a paper slip, hospitals, and health centres would benefit from the use of digital prescriptions, sent via email or text. Whilst reducing paper waste, it could decrease the chances of dangerous prescription errors. 
  • Cloud-based administration – Various routine hospital tasks can be transferred to a cloud-based application. Ward inspections, for example, could benefit from the use of apps such as Perfect Ward – removing the need to fill out time-consuming paperwork. 

How to dispose of confidential documents 

Despite efforts to minimise paper waste, it’s almost impossible to completely eliminate the need for physical documents. This is especially true for documents that contain sensitive, confidential information – certificates, legal communications, and financial statements, for example. In order to safely dispose of these, the best option is to use the services of a licensed paper shredding company. 

At Flexible Storage, we offer a professional shredding service via our partner company. Working in full compliance with GDPR, we destroy sensitive documents securely and issue you with a certificate of destruction to prove it. 100% of the paperwork we dispose of is recycled – ideal for companies that want to ensure airtight data protection whilst remaining environmentally-conscious. 

We can also supply confidential waste disposal bins to ensure all sensitive paperwork is securely stored before disposal. These lockable consoles are perfect for any environment, from schools to hospitals to any corporate office. We’ll collect them on an agreed regular basis or whenever it’s almost full – just let us know and we’ll be there. As with our shredding service, all documents are recycled at UK paper mills with zero percent of our paper waste sent to landfill. For every tonne of paper waste recycled, approximately 17 trees are saved. Secure and sustainable paper disposal – what more could you want?

Get in touch with our team today for more information about our shredding services and even receive a quote. 

What are the costs involved in offsite document storage?

When it comes to the business benefits of offsite document storage, there’s no shortage of reasons to employ a professional storage facility. 

From space saving to streamlined organisation to guaranteed GDPR compliance, the majority of UK businesses could improve their working practices with the help of a certified document storage company.

However, document storage services aren’t free. And while they may result in massive savings in admin time and company resources, they still represent a cost to your business. 

So how much does document storage cost? 

The costs of offsite document storage will depend on several factors:

  •     The document storage company you choose
  •     The quantity of documents you wish to store
  •     How much access you’ll need to your documents while they’re in storage

Document storage costs will also depend on whether you require additional document management services, such as document scanning or destruction.

Document storage costs based on quantity

The vast majority of document storage companies charge by the box, which means the main factor determining your document storage costs will be the number of documents, and therefore boxes, that require storage.

While some companies will only charge for document storage on a yearly basis, most will quote for monthly storage. This gives organisations more flexibility, as they are not tied in to lengthy annual contracts, even though many documents are stored for a number of years.

Monthly storage costs can vary from as little as 20p to over £1 per box per month.

As with any business purchase, it’s never a bad idea to shop around and compare prices from a handful of prospective storage companies.

Document storage costs based on accessibility

While monthly rolling contracts are standard in the offsite document storage industry, most facilities will also give you the option of storing your files for a specified number of years if you will not need regular access to them.

This is commonly known as ‘deep storage’ or ‘archive storage’, and the minimal access means the price is significantly lower than other forms of document storage.

On the other hand, if you’re going to need regular access to your stored files, it’s going to be reflected in the storage costs.Needing all of your documents for tomorrow is obviously going to cost more than needing a few files next month. 

Many document storage companies offer document retrieval. This service allows you to retrieve one, some or all of your stored files from the storage facility.

This is typically done via phone call or email, but some storage facilities take care of everything via their online file management system. Your documents are barcoded, indexed and transported to the storage facility where they are securely stored. Throughout the whole process, you are able to trace, manage and retrieve all of your documents through an online system, all from the comfort of your own office.

This is the level of document storage service you can expect at Flexible Storage. Our online document management service is a FREE TO USE service, including all technical support. We offer you complete control of your stored documents, and retrieval couldn’t be easier – we can offer next day or emergency deliveries that can be with you in just a matter of hours, while our weekly deliveries are our most popular and most cost-effective service.

Choose the right offsite document storage company for your needs

Ultimately, choosing the right offsite document storage – not just the cheapest one – is really the key to ensuring you get the service you need.

Basing your decision solely on the lowest cost could put your confidential documents at risk if the storage facility, its staff or any other aspect of the document storage service is not up to scratch.

We know we said it earlier but it’s worth repeating – shop around, get as many quotes as you can and make sure you scrutinise each document storage prospect.

Does their service fulfil all of your document storage needs? What security does their facility have in place to protect your files? Are their staff fully trained and industry certified to handle sensitive data?

If they’re a storage facility worth their salt, all of this information relating to their service will be readily available on their website – just like it is with Flexible Storage’s document storage service.        

Get in touch with the Flexible Storage team today to receive a quote for your document storage needs.

GDPR Fines UK: What You Need to Know About GDPR Non-Compliance

The introduction of EU-wide GDPR legislation has ushered in a new era of stringent data security, compelling UK organisations to make data protection a distinct priority like never before.  

While we don’t want to cover old ground by stressing the importance of GDPR compliance (or even how GDPR can actually benefit your business), we want to take a look at the real-world consequences of failing to uphold data protection laws.

After all, these regulations have been put in place to protect all of our personal data, securing both individual privacy and business confidentiality. It’s in all of our interest that data protection is upheld to the full extent of the law.

Has anyone been fined for a GDPR breach? 

Yes – since GDPR was implemented in May 2018, the ICO (the UK’s independent national data protection authority) has been busy taking action against over 100 organisations in both the private and public sector.

These actions include issuing undertakings, enforcement notices and even prosecutions, but the majority of penalties include imposing monetary fines.

Notable GDPR breach fines so far:

  •     Carphone Warehouse, January 2018 – £400,000 fine after serious security failures put both customer and employee data at risk.
  •     Facebook, July 2018 – £500,000 fine (the maximum at the time) over the Cambridge Analytica scandal where the personal data of millions of Facebook users was used without their consent for political advertising.
  •     Bupa, September 2018 – £175,000 for failing to implement security measure that would effectively protect their customers’ personal information.
  •     Heathrow Airport, October 2018 – £120,000 fine for failing to secure the personal data held on its network.
  •     Uber, November 2018 – £385,000 fine for failing to protect their customers’ and drivers’ personal information during a cyber attack.
  •     British Airways, July 2019 – £183 million fine for a data breach that compromised the personal details of approximately 500,000 customers.
  •     Marriott International, July 2019 – £99 million fine for failing to protect the personal data of roughly 339 million guests.

For a full list of organisations and companies fined under GDPR please refer to the ICO’s enforcement action page.

How much is a GDPR fine?

The most annoying of all answers – it depends. While pre-May 2018 data protection legislation capped the maximum fine for a breach to £500,000 (see Facebook fine above), GDPR introduced a much stricter, two-tier fines system that related to the offending company’s revenue: 

  1.     Up to €10 million, or 2% of annual global turnover – whichever is higher; or
  2.     Up to €20 million, or 4% of annual global turnover – whichever is higher.

Maximum fine for GDPR

As shown above, the maximum fine a company can be fined for GDPR non-compliance is €20 million or 4% of that company’s annual worldwide revenue. This penalty can be applied to any failure to comply with any of GDPR’s data protection principles.

So, if we look at the case of the British Airways data breach mentioned above, the £183 million sum they faced was the result of a 1.5% fine by the ICO on their global turnover. If the ICO had chosen to enforce the maximum 4% fine, British Airways could have faced a bill of approximately £489 million!

While this example may highlight the lenience that the ICO can exercise when investigating GDPR breaches, it also stresses the very considerable and very real fines that can and are being enforced in the UK.    

Can individuals be fined under GDPR? 

Yes – the EU specifically states that GDPR legislation “regulates the processing by an individual, a company or an organisation of personal data relating to individuals in the EU.” These data protection regulations apply to any individual or organisation that uses another party’s data “outside the personal sphere, (such as) for socio-cultural or financial activities.”

There have already been dozens of individuals who have faced punitive action by the ICO as a direct result of data protection violations and GDPR non-compliance (the Data Protection Act 2018 is the UK’s implementation of GDPR). In most cases, this involved prosecution, which typically resulted in hefty fines, coverings costs and victim surcharges.

At Flexible Storage, our document storage services are fully compliant with GDPR regulations, so you know your documents will be in the safest possible hands. Get in touch with one of our professional storage consultants today to see how we can help you protect your confidential data, avoid any fines and keep your company operating at maximum potential. 

Is There Still a Demand for Secure Off-Site Document Storage?

Do people even use paper any more? This question could come from the child who’s too small to hold a tablet or that CEO who gets a buzz out of, well – buzzwords.

Yes, we know the benefits of a paperless office and cloud-based storage. But, many businesses still rely on off-site document storage to safeguard critical information. There may be rumours of industries across the board embracing all things paperless. Forgive the pun, but experts say those rumours are paper-thin. In fact, as of 2017, over 15 trillion pages are printed globally each year, according to Andrew Morrison, managing director at Xerox UK and Ireland.

Overall, the global market for document storage is growing. According to the recent Document Management Software Market 2019 Global Trend, the market is expected to be worth $960 million by the end of 2025.

Paper is necessary for many industries

The demand to ditch paper documents in favour of digital copies is growing. However, there are industries that simply must hang onto their paper documents. The first example that comes to mind is the legal sector. A large number of documents change hands every day in the legal sector. These can range from wills and birth certificates to contracts and property deeds. It goes without saying that any lawyer worth their salt won’t accept a scanned copy. These documents are incredibly valuable, so as long as the world needs solicitors there will be a demand for secure document storage.

Law is just one of many sectors that need to keep paper documents close to hand. Healthcare is another prominent example. The average hospital or surgery is teeming with documents such as test results and patient records. We’re sure we don’t need to fill you in on the sacred covenant of doctor-patient confidentiality. Anything containing sensitive information about a person’s medical history needs to be kept under lock and key. All of this important paper needs to be stored somewhere – stat.

Data protection and storage of documents

You would think that many businesses understand the importance of a cast-iron document storage policy. Countless hours can be wasted sifting through reams of paper to find a certain file. Despite this, a recent survey conducted by Cleardata revealed that many SMEs are relying on a manner of half-baked storage solutions:

  • 44% of businesses admitted to storing documents in lock-ups
  • 22% store their documents in basements or lofts
  • 17% leave their paperwork in sheds

 It turns out only 33% of businesses using a purpose-built facility for storage. This statistic is particularly worrying, considering the standards for document storage outlined in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). We don’t tend to consider paper copies when we talk about data protection. This means the secure storage of paper documents is often overlooked. Nevertheless, the hefty fines (which could total as much as £20m) for GDPR non-compliance apply just as much to paper documents as they do to digital records.

 GDPR dictates that documents must not only be kept securely, they also need to be accessible. One of the key components of GDPR is the right to erasure.” Organisations must be completely transparent about the information they keep on a person. They must also comply with requests to destroy information if they do not have a legitimate reason to store it. Without a clear-cut document storage system, finding this information is sure to be a time-consuming process.

Cloud storage has security risks

GDPR was implemented in May 2018, a time of peak concern for cybersecurity. Last year saw a series of cataclysmic data breaches, affecting high-profile organisations from British Airways to T-Mobile. There are a number of reasons behind data breaches, and some are due to human error. However, the unfortunate reality is no matter how advanced security protocols become, cybercriminals are quick to adapt their techniques.

Data breaches are costly, in more ways than one. Companies fork out large sums of money in ransomware attacks. The dent to their public reputation can also have a catastrophic long-term effect. IBM estimated in 2018 that the average cost of a data breach could be as much as $3.86m, a 6% increase from the previous year.

A more secure document storage solution

At Flexible Storage, we employ a range of practices to ensure the utmost protection for important documents. Our cast-iron security includes alarms, 24-hour CCTV surveillance, access codes and hardened steel locks.

If you’re interested in finding out more about secure offsite document storage, learn more about our protection and security services. Better yet, contact Flexible Storage today and one of our consultants will get in touch to talk over your requirements. 

How long are medical records kept and who can access them?

Our medical records are arguably some of the most sensitive documents that follow us throughout our lives. As well as containing information about our medical history, they also contain details about our lifestyles, finances and private addresses.

All of this information is like gold dust to cybercriminals who can sell medical data for a high price on the black market. In fact, some experts now warn that your medical information is 10 times more valuable to fraudsters and hackers than your credit card details! It’s a scary thought but it just goes to show the increasing threats facing our online data.

A recent data breach in the US where 12 million patients had their medical records hacked is just the latest in a long line of such incidents. As a result, more people are taking an active interest in their medical data and asking serious questions about medical records storage and accessibility.

In this post, we’ll answer the most commonly asked questions regarding medical records so that you’ll be in a better position to ensure the protection of your confidential medical data.

How long are medical records kept?

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the Records Management Code of Practice for Health and Social Care 2016 outlines the retention periods for people working with or in the NHS. In summary, they are as follows:

  •      GP Records – 10 years after death or after leaving the UK (unless they remain in the EU). Electronic patient records (ERPs) must be stored for the foreseeable future.
  •      Maternity Records – 25 years after the birth of the last child.
  •      Children and Young People – until the patient’s 25th birthday or 8 years after their death.
  •      Mental Health Records – 20 years or 8 years after their death.

In Scotland, medical records retention periods are slightly different than the rest of the UK. They are as follows:

  •      Adult Medical Records – 6 years after the last entry or 3 years after death.
  •      GP Records – 3 years after death. ERPs must be stored for the foreseeable future.
  •      Maternity Records – 25 years after the birth of the last child.
  •      Children and Young People – until the patient’s 25th birthday or 3 years after death.
  •      Mentally Disordered Person as defined by the Mental Health Act – 20 years after last contact between patient and healthcare professional or 3 years after death.

How do I access my medical records?

In the UK, the NHS records information about you and the healthcare you receive in both online and physical paper form. Most GP medical records are a combination of paper records (such as Lloyd George records) and digital records, either stored on the surgery’s computer system, in filing cabinets or stored externally at a document storage facility.

There are many different types of medical records and healthcare professionals are legally obliged to allow you to see them.

To access your GP records, you can sign up to GP online services. You will then be able to view parts of your medical records, including information about medication, allergies, vaccinations, previous illnesses and test results. While this service is free, you will need to be registered with a GP before you can sign up.

To access your Summary Care Record or to correct your health record, speak to your GP as you will not be able to view or change it online.

Who can access my medical records?

As medical records are highly confidential, only you and authorised healthcare professionals have automatic access to your medical records. However, other people can be granted access to your medical records if:

  •      They are acting on your behalf and with your consent, or
  •      They have the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf (such as with power of attorney), or
  •      They have another legal basis to access your medical records.

A request for access to someone’s medical records can be made directly to the healthcare provider, i.e. GP surgery, hospital or dentist. These are known as Subject Access Requests (SARs) and are outlined by the Data Protection Act of 1998. They can be submitted by email or post but will require the patient’s written consent or legal permission.

Medical records and storage security

Now that you know how long medical records need to be stored, as well as how you and others can access them, you’ll have a better understanding of how your medical records are managed and stored.

If you’re concerned about the safety of your medical records, contact your healthcare providers to discuss the security measures they have put in place to protect your data. While the threats to online medical data are becoming increasingly difficult to mitigate, there are still some sure-fire ways they can ensure the safety of your physical paper medical records. Chief of which is storing your medical records with a professional document storage facility.

At Flexible Storage, we provide secure document storage solutions for numerous healthcare organisations and currently store thousands of medical records. Our medical document storage service allows providers to securely store, retrieve and professionally destroy medical records, all in compliance with GDPR and Data Protection regulations. Get in touch with our team today to find out more.

Office Storage Ideas: How To Optimise Office Space

As we’re all more than aware, office space isn’t cheap, especially if you live in London or any other major city in the UK. That’s why it’s crucial that you are using your working space in the most efficient way possible.

Optimising your office’s storage space is more than just making it look tidy (although that is definitely a big benefit too). Efficient storage management will ensure that your business can function effectively, while also reducing your running costs, minimise your environmental impact and improve your overall working conditions.

And we’re not talking huge architectural changes here either. We’re going to explore the simple, practical office storage ideas that you can incorporate into your office, which won’t break the bank but will streamline your business.   

De-clutter

First and foremost, get rid of anything that you no longer need. This may sound obvious but people are often surprised at how much rubbish can quickly build up in office cabinets, drawers and desks.

A cluttered office is not only unsightly; it makes it harder for staff to find items they actually need. This wastes valuable time, slows productivity and generally puts staff in a bad mood as soon as they enter their office. None of this is conducive to a business that wants to operate at its full potential.

Encourage staff to be strict when it comes to keeping items in the office – only keep what is necessary and used on a regular basis. This doesn’t mean you have to turn your office into a minimalist cell, just that you should think practically about your available office space and avoid unnecessary clutter. This applies to office furniture just as much as it applies to office files. If you don’t use it, get rid of it.

Wall Storage                     

Also known as ‘vertical expansion’, looking towards your walls for office storage solutions is an increasingly popular strategy. While you may not be able to add any more floor space to your office, there are other ways to optimise available office space.

From traditional shelving to more contemporary wall pockets and hooks, taking advantage of vertical space will help free up floor and desk space and avoid the need for cumbersome filing cabinets and awkward coat stands. Adjustable shelves allows your storage space to expand or contract depending on your current storage needs. Other space saving, wall-mounted options include wall file organisers, pegboards and even glass boards or writable walls to replace bulky flip charts.

Walls are often neglected when it comes to office storage opportunities. To make the most of your available space, think outside of the box (well, at least consider its walls).

Adaptable Desks

When most people think of offices, they think of traditional furniture. Desks, chairs, cabinets – the usual office suspects. For the most part, these items are heavy, clunky and very hard to move.

However, offices are changing. Bulky office furniture is being replaced by lighter, cheaper and more adaptable items. The dwindling reliance on paper documents means that the days of heavy chairs and big desks stuffed with paperwork are coming to an end.

Small, streamlined desks are the future, providing you with enough space to work while also being able to store necessary files without swamping all available office space.

Putting your office monitors on adjustable arms is another great way to free up space in your office. This will allow employees to easily move their monitors out of their way when more desktop space is needed. More workspace on desks means less space needed for storage. It’s practical and it looks cool too.

Reduce Paper Waste Storage

One of the biggest space consumers in any office is, undoubtedly, paperwork. From bills to business records to general office files, all of these documents can build up in offices of any size or sector.

Despite the gradual migration of many businesses to a digitally focused, ‘paperless’ office, the day-to-day reality is that most businesses in the UK still have to process and store a great deal of their documentation. Instead of letting it build up over time in a desk drawer or storage cupboard, there are much more efficient and responsible options out there.

Without doubt, the best way to prevent your office from drowning in paperwork is to take advantage of a confidential waste collection service. Professional waste collection companies can collect all of your paperwork at regular intervals or on an ad-hoc basis, preventing any substantial build up in your office. There’s no need to dedicate an entire cabinet or cupboard to confidential waste if it can be secured in a confidential waste disposal console, which will be collected by a qualified confidential waste handler (such as Flexible Storage), securely shredded and recycled.

This service is not only convenient and space saving, but it will ensure that your business is fully compliant GDPR regulations concerning confidential waste.  Confidential waste collection benefits your employees, your business and your customers – it’s win-win-win situation!

Off-site Storage

Perhaps the best storage idea to optimise your office space is to not store your paperwork at all – let Flexible Storage store it for you!

As a professional storage facility, we can store all of your confidential documents in our secure archiving centre. Our online file management service will allow you to easily store and retrieve your indexed files from the comfort of your own office. No need for bulky storage cabinets, cluttered workspaces or bigger, costly offices, we can store your documents (and any other office furniture or self storage items) so you don’t have to.

Get in touch with our team today to discuss your storage options and ensure you’re making the most of your available office space.

Moving Office? Here’s What You Need to Consider to Save Time and Money

Moving office is never an easy task. Whether you are moving to a new unit in the same building or a complete relocation across the country, the logistics involved in moving equipment, files and people are fairly complicated. That’s why it’s so important that you make the move as easy and straightforward as possible. It’s crucial that all of your belongings are organised so that everything is accounted for once you have moved into your shiny new office and all confidential documents are always protected.

With that in mind, we have put together some useful moving office advice to help make your relocation go off without a hitch.

Clear out the Clutter

There is never a better time to have a clear out than when you are already having to go through your office drawers, cabinets and desks in order to pack them away for moving. Have a bin and shredder nearby, so that you can throw away anything that is clearly rubbish and shred any documents containing data that has served its purpose (not sure what to shred? Check out our blog post on what business documents need secure shredding). Since the introduction of GDPR in 2018, it’s imperative that you stay on top of any out-dated paperwork that has accumulated. These files will likely contain sensitive information and pose a security risk if managed incorrectly. By going through all documentation in the office, you can pack your belongings, de-clutter your workspace and destroy sensitive data all at the same time!

Downsize Your Storage

The vast majority of businesses accumulate a significant amount of sensitive data, much of which you will need to keep. One of the best pieces of moving office advice that we can offer is to use this time to scan as much of your paper information as possible to computer files. You will then be able to securely destroy more unnecessary paperwork and have less to move to your new office. With copies of your documents saved online, there’s less chance of the odd piece of paper being left behind or falling out of a folder during the move, and therefore less chance of confidential information falling into the wrong hands. Of course, while the truly “paperless office” is yet to become a reality, you will still need to retain physical copies of most of your documents. Scanning and storing your important files online provides you with a backup should anything happen to the originals.

Another benefit of this is that you will have less to unpack in your new office, helping you to make better use of your space and preventing a fresh build-up of clutter.

Take Advantage of Document Storage

Why not go one step further than scanning your documents and take full advantage of a professional document storage service? Once you have packed up your files and securely shredded all unnecessary paperwork, you can let a storage facility take your confidential documents off your hands. Properly indexed, securely stored and easily retrieved with an online file management service, storage facilities keep your files safe and your office clutter-free. However, make sure you only store your files with a professional and fully GDPR compliant facility (such as Flexible Storage).  

Make a Floor Plan of your new Office

The chances are that your new office will not be identical to your old one, especially if you have downsized your storage. Now is a good time to look at the condition of your current chairs and desks, in order to identify any items that are past their best. If you have a floor plan drawn up, you can see exactly what you need and where it will go, so that your furniture can be put straight into place when unloading. Any surplus furniture can be donated, recycled or sold and any new furniture you might need can be ordered for delivery on or before moving day.

Plan Internet and Phoneline Relocation in Advance

It’s easy to forget about telecommunications until the very last minute – usually when you have unpacked at the other side, but if you think ahead, you can discuss your needs with your Internet and phone providers, helping to ensure there is no downtime in service. You want to be able to unpack and set-up as quickly as possible in your new office, in order to keep your business ticking over and your customers happy.

Get Staff involved

Make sure your team is giving you plenty of help moving office, so that you can also take the opportunity to inform them of fire exits, new procedures and security processes for the new premises. Let them know where they should report on moving day and the exact location of the new offices, as well as establish a seating plan ahead of time. While this may seem like obvious advice, doing most of this in advance will ensure your move is quick and easy and that everyone is comfortable with their new working home. You’d be surprised how many things are overlooked in the hustle and bustle of an office move!

There are so many things to consider when moving office locations and it can all seem rather overwhelming at times. By taking things one step at a time, planning in advance and taking advantage of professional services, you can keep a clear head on moving day, helping to get your business back up and running as quickly as possible.

Contact the Flexible Storage team today to find out how our secure, professional storage services can benefit your office move, saving you valuable time, energy and money.