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Accessing your Medical Records
At any point during the NHS Complaints Procedure you can apply to see your medical records. Under current Data Protection legislation you have a right to see your records unless:
- Your doctor or responsible health care professional has assessed that to do so would seriously cause harm to your (or another person’s) physical or mental health or condition.
Note: This refusal can apply to only part of your records and there is no obligation to inform you of this. It is worth asking if all, or only part of your records are being made available.
- Providing the records would disclose information relating to another person who has not consented to this information being shared.
How to apply to see your Medical Records
You will need to request your medical records from the relevant NHS organisation (e.g. GP surgery, hospital) by completing a Subject Access Request (SAR) Form which you may be able to download from their website or they will send to you. Be as specific as you can regarding time periods or a particular incident/illness or Department for which you would like your records.
You can choose to view your records at the surgery or hospital at no cost. Someone
from the organisation will be in the room with you but not able to see your records.
You can take someone with you if you wish.
You can also choose to receive hard copies of your records. NHS Trusts and GP Practices must provide a copy of the information free of charge. Records should be made available without delay and, at the latest, within one month of receipt of the SAR.
Applying to see someone else’s records
You must have the person’s permission in writing. This includes parents applying to see their child’s records. If the person is unable to give permission (because of incapacity or illness) you may need to seek legal advice and get a court's authorisation.
If the person is deceased, their medical records can only be obtained by a personal representative (usually an executor, or someone making a claim arising from the death). However, if the deceased has specifically requested in their records that they do not want this person to see their records, permission may be refused.
Explanations and inaccuracies in Medical Records
Trusts and GP Practices have to explain to you anything in your records that is not easy to read, or which uses technical language that you do not understand.
If you think your records are inaccurate, you can ask for them to be corrected. If the Trust or doctor disagrees with the changes you want to make you can ask for a note recording your disagreement to be attached to the records.
Any complaint about changing your Medical Records can be made to:
The Information Commissioner's Office
tel: 0303 123 1113