Access to Medical Records
Formal requests under the Data Protection Act
Under the Data Protection Act 1998, you have a legal right to apply for access to health information held about you. This includes your NHS or private health records held by a GP, optician or dentist, or by a hospital. However, your GP surgery will only have summary letters from the hospital if you require all the detailed notes regarding a hospital visit you will need to contact the NHS Hospital Trust as well.
A health record contains information about your mental and physical health recorded by a healthcare professional as part of your care.
If you want to see your health records, you don’t have to give a reason.
Applying for access to your health records
Depending on which health records you want to see, submit your request in writing to:
your GP surgery
your dentist, or
the health records manager or patient services manager at your local hospital trust
This is known as a Subject Access Request (SAR).
It’s a good idea to state the dates of the records when you apply or whether you wish to see them from birth.
The health records manager, GP or other healthcare professional will decide whether your request can be approved. They can refuse your request if, for example, they believe that releasing the information may cause serious harm to your physical or mental health or that of another person.
Under the Data Protection Act, requests for access to records should be met within 40 days. However, government guidance for healthcare organisations says they should aim to respond within 21 days.
Fees to access your health records
You will have to pay a fee to access your health records. For computerised notes, the fee is £10 and for full medical records the fee is either £35 or £50.
Can someone else access my health records?
Another person can only access your health records if you authorise them to do so.
For more detailed information go to www.nhs.uk and search medical records.