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How to access your medical records

If you want to view your health records, you may not need to make a formal application. Nothing in the law prevents health care professionals from informally showing you your own records. You can make an informal request during a consultation, or by phoning your GP surgery or hospital to arrange a time to see your records.

Formal request under the Data Protection Act 1998

Applying for access to your health records

Fees to access your health records

Can I access someone else’s health records?

Can I access the health records of someone who has died?

Applying for access to a deceased person’s health records

Fees to access health records of someone who has died

Formal request under the Data Protection Act 1998

Under the Data Protection Act, 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.

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 do not have to give a reason.

Applying for access to your health records

Depending on which health records you want to see, you should submit your request in writing or by email to:

  • Your GP surgery
  • Your optician
  • Your dentist
  • The hospital trust’s health records manager or patient services manager

This is known as a Subject Access Request (SAR).

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.

Under the Data Protection Act, request 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 may have to pay a fee to access your health records, it depends on whether:

  • The records have been updated in the previous 40 days
  • You want a copy of the records and, if so, how the records are stored.

Accessing health records is free of charge if:

  • The records have been updated in the previous 40 days
  • They are in the form of paper records such as letters, X-rays or films
  • You do not require a copy

If the records have not been updated in the last 40 days and you do not require a copy, the maximum charge is £10. This charge applies whether the records are stored:

  • On computer
  • Partly on computer and partly in another form, for example, paper records such as letters of hand-written clinical noted, or images such as X-ray film
  • Entirely in another form.

If you do want a copy, the maximum £10 charge for viewing will be included for obtaining a copy (see below). You will not be charge twice for one access request.

Fees to get a copy of health records

If you want a copy of your health record, the fee will depend on how the records are stored:

  • On computer: maximum £10
  • Partly on computer and partly in another form: maximum £50
  • Entirely in another form: maximum £50

The maximum charges include postage and packaging.

Can I access someone else’s health records?

Health records are confidential so you can only access someone else’s records if you are authorised to do so.

To access someone else’s health records you must:

  • Be acting on their behalf with their consent, or
  • Have legal authority to make decisions on their behalf (power of attorney) or
  • Have another legal basis for access

Can I access the health records of someone who has died?

Under the Access to Health Records Act 1990, only specific people have the right to apply for access to the health records of someone who has died. They are:

  • The personal representative of the person who has died
  • Any person who may have a claim resulting from the person’s death

Applying for access to a deceased person’s health records

To see a deceased person’s health record, you should apply in writing to the person or organisation that holds the records.

To see a deceased person’s health records, applicants may be required to provide evidence to support their claim and may need to provide evidence of their identity.

Fees to access health records of someone who has died

You may have to pay a fee to view a deceased person’s health records. There should be no charge if the records have been updated in the previous 40 days.

If the records have not been updated in the last 40 days, the maximum charge is £10, whether the records are stored on computer or as paper-based records.

If you require copies of the records, there will be an additional charge. However, this charge should not exceed the cost of making copies and postage costs.

Further information

All requests for access to health records are dealt with by the Information Governance Team on behalf of the CCG.

For further information or guidance about access to health records please contact the Information Governance Team on 01234 263841. Or by writing to: Information Governance Team, NHS Central Eastern CSU, Gilbert Hitchcock House, 21 Kimbolton Road, Bedford MK40 2AW.

For further information about the information we hold about you and why please see the Fair Processing notice

You can also find out more on the NHS Choices website 

 

 

 

 

 

                              This page was last revised on 23/05/2014.


 

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