Health records FAQ

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

If you want to make a formal request to see your health records under the Data Protection Act (1998), apply in writing to the holder(s) of the records. If you want to see your GP records, write to your GP or the surgery manager. If you want to see your hospital records, write to the hospital’s patients services manager or medical records officer.

If you change your name, address or telephone number, your health records will need to be updated. Phone or write to your GP surgery or hospital to notify them of any changes. Reception staff can update your records. Some hospitals and GP surgeries have online forms for updating your details.


Will I be charged to access my health records?

The Data Protection Act (DPA) covers personal information including health records. It gives you the right to see your records by requesting a permanent copy also known as subject access request.
More details about this can be found on Information Commissioner's Office website.

The fee to obtain a permanent copy of your health records will vary depending on how the information is stored. The maximum charges are:

  • £10 for records that are only held on computer,
  • £50 for records that are only held manually, and
  • £50 for records that are held partly on computer and partly manually.

If you want to see your health records but don't want a copy, the maximum fee that can be charged is £10. This is the same for records held on computer, manually, or partly on computer and partly manually (unless the records have been added to in the last 40 days, in which case there is no charge).
By law, you're entitled to receive a response no later than 40 days after your application is received, your identity is checked and any relevant fee has been paid. You will then receive an appointment to see your records.

If you have asked to see a copy of your records, they should be written out in a form that you can understand. This means that abbreviations and complicated medical terms should be explained. If you still do not understand any part of the record, the health professional who is holding the record should explain it to you.

Also read the ICO's Subject Access code of practice guidance (PDF, 1mb).

I'm living abroad. How can I access my UK health records?

If you have permanently left the UK, your GP health records will be sent to your NHS England Local Area Team and your hospital records will either be stored at the hospital that you attended or sent to a local archive. Following treatment, hospital records are kept for a minimum of eight years and GP records for a minimum of 10 years.

Under the Data Protection Act (1998), you have the right to apply for access to or copies of your UK health records, even if you have moved abroad. Apply in writing to the record holder(s).

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

If you want to view the health records of a deceased person, under the Access to Health Records Act (1990) you can apply in writing to the record holder.

Under the terms of the Access to Health Records Act (1990), you will only be able to access the deceased’s health records if you are either:

  • a personal representative
  • an executor
  • or someone who has a claim resulting from the death (this could be a relative or another person).

After a person has died, their GP health records will be passed to their NHS England Local Area Team so that they can be stored. To access their GP records, apply to the records manager at the relevant Area Team. The deceased person’s GP can tell you which Area Team to contact.

GP records are generally retained for 10 years after the patient death before destruction. For hospital records, the record holder is the records manager at the hospital the person attended. 

Note: fees may apply for accessing these records

How can I make a complaint?

If you think that information in your health records is incorrect, approach the relevant health professional informally and ask to have the record amended. If this doesn't work, you can formally request that the information be amended under the NHS complaints procedure. All NHS trusts, NHS England, CCGs, GPs, dentists, opticians and pharmacists have a complaints procedure. If you want to make a complaint, go to the practice, hospital or trust concerned and ask for a copy of their complaints procedure.

Alternatively, you can complain to the Information Commissioner (the person responsible for regulating and enforcing the Data Protection Act), at:

The Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane

Telephone: 01625 545745

If your request to have your records amended is refused, the record holder must attach a statement of your views to the record.


The 10 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

lulu65x said on 27 September 2014

I wrote formally to my GP asking to view my records both IT & paper based.
I did not ask for copies as I cannot afford the fee.

They have written back saying that due to security issues relating to access to other patients records, they can only provide me with copies of the records at the usual fees of £10 for IT records and £50 for IT and paper.

I dont want copies I just want to view them all.
Can they do this and how do I insist taht I want to view them all.

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maz2014 said on 06 August 2014

To Solihull boy and yasasii...take a look at p18 states that under the data protection act 1998, the act makes it a requirement that any information held is accurate and it gives the right to have factual inaccuracies in their records put right
p13 states that if you feel and can show that keeping some info is causing you a significant amount of unnecessary damage or distress . it allows you to write to the organisation and quote section 10 of the act and give specific reasons for why keeping the info is causing you damage or distress...etc If they refuse, then you can refer it to the information commissioner, who can then approach the trust....there is a difference between fact and opinion and its' still a grey area, but have a go!

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sjk8103 said on 31 January 2014

hi all, re your gp medical notes, and data. you can go to your gp to opt - out of sharing all your medical notes, plus if u go to this site.

you can download a form to fill in, to give to your gp, with your name, and any family member register with the same gp as you. then take the form to gp surgery or post to them, they will sort the opt-out on they computor.

hope this helps out.

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NHS Defence said on 29 January 2014

Regarding the Opt out: This is just another example of the cavalier attitude that this government takes towards patient care. The government are well aware that most people are sleepwalking into a fully privatized health service. We have seen private patient numbers risen from 2% to %50. We are seeing foundation hospitals and now patients are having to opt out from having their personal information sold off to the highest bidder and all sorts of unspecified outside bodies. I am sure that this will all be very helpful for them when the national health service is taken apart next year. This is not about politics. It is all about our national assets disappearing whilst most people are totally unaware.
Will they also use all of our comments to put us into a box of 'the awkward squad' to be dealt with under a privatized health service? I am very unhappy about all this.

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caz1951 said on 27 January 2014

I completely agree with the rest of the commenters on here. It is not very easy to opt out of this system unless you go to your GP's surgery. A web address would have been far easier. Also, I don't trust my information to remain private.

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del2010 said on 08 January 2014

Not sure that I trust the Government to
safeguard my data
only sue if for the purposes I intend it to be used

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User806969 said on 26 September 2013

Today is the first time I heard about this. Looks like the NHS is expecting everyone to opt in without questioning data security. I'll be opting out. That said, it's not made very easy to do so. I suppose this kind or arrogance is to be expected from our current governement, isn't it.

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1stviolin said on 13 January 2013

My daughter started at university last September and immediately (as heavily suggested) registered with a new doctor near the halls of residence. However her notes seem to have gone astray in transit and the new practise is proving very unhelpful in providing her with the vital medicine, including asthma inhalers, which she had on repeat prescription. Something seems to be seriously wrong with the system for transferring these important medical records - my son's also vanished when he moved away but as he has no similarly serious condition it took him several years to realise.

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solihullboy said on 11 October 2012

I have just been to see my local gp, and whislt I was discussing my previous illness (Work Related Stress) 15 years ago I found out that another GP had entered on my records that I had agin experienced work related stress again in 2009.

I disputed ever having this conversation with the doctor, and asked him to remove this information on my records as it had never taken place, and that this would be detrimental to me personaly.

I have now been asked to have a conversation with the other doctor concerned, about a conversation that never took place. I was then told by the practice manager that "I wouldnt expect the doctor to remember this event", but you can have a meeting with her at the end of the month.

The practice manager had some difficulty in acepting that I too would have a problem having a meeting with a doctor over a conversation that never took place, and the fact that she would never remember the content of that meeting?

I again asked for the records to be deleted, as they were incorrect, but again was told that only the doctor concerned could do that?

How on earth can I get my records changed, if the conversation never took place, and the doctor can not remember the meeting....?

Is there any way that I can isist that the records be changed, as this on my record will be very detrimental to my personal life?

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yasasii said on 26 July 2011

I found out that my hospital records state that I had a history of chest pains and had been treated against my will for this complaint including invasie procedures,xrays and embassasing exposure,all without my consent.
I in fact have never in my life had any chest pains,the hospital refuse to alter or add notes to this effect and will not even discuss it.

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Page last reviewed: 13/01/2014

Next review due: 31/03/2015

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