Under the Data Protection Act 1998, living persons have the right to access personal information held about themselves in either computerised or manual form. This relates to all existing records and includes both NHS medical records and private healthcare records.
You need to make a written request to the holder of the records e.g. a hospital or doctors’ surgery. Each organisation has a designated ‘data controller’. You must include sufficient information to enable the record holder to be able to identify your records. You may be asked to complete a special form to access your records.
You will probably have to pay a fee to obtain the medical records.
You are advised to ask what the cost will be when you make the application.
The Trust or GP is entitled to charge extra for the cost of making copies and posting the records to you. There is no limit on this charge, but it should be reasonable and proportionate. The maximum fee which can be charged to access a living person’s medical records is £50, including all copying and postage costs.
The rules relating to the disclosure of a deceased person’s medical records differs significantly from the general rules about release of medical records.
Under the Access to Health Records Act 1990 only certain people have the right to access the medical records of someone who has died. Disclosure is allowed to:
You will need to provide evidence that you fall under one of these two categories. This is fairly straightforward if you are looking after the estate. The deceased’s Personal Representative can provide a copy of the Grant of Probate (if you are the Executor of the will), or a copy of the Grant of Letters of Administration (if you are the Administrator).
The situation becomes more complicated if you are not the Personal Representative, but believe you may have a claim resulting from the person’s death.
All other procedures apply as when requesting Medical Records of a person who has died.
You will probably have to pay a fee to obtain the medical records of a person who has died. You are advised to ask what the cost will be when you make the application.
Should you need to update your medical records, or feel that the information is outdated or incorrect, such as your personal details changing, you will need to approach the relevant health professional and ask to have the record amended. Some hospitals and GP surgeries may have online capabilities which can allow you to update your information.
If this process doesn’t work, then you can formally request that the information be amended under the NHS complaints procedure. For more information on how to make a complaint, please view our how to make a complaint page.
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