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Your health and care records

How can I access my health records?

If you want to view your medical 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.

Some GPs have given online access to their patients’ GP records for some time. From April 2015 all GPs should give their patients online access to their records. This is part of the drive to provide more GP online services to patients. It should give you more control of your health and well-being, especially if you are managing a condition that needs regular monitoring and frequent prescriptions.

Tip

For more detailed information about the patient online services download the Patient Online FAQ leaflet (PDF, 188kb). Alternatively, look up your local GP on this site and find out what online services the practice provides or read more about GP online booking systems including how to register for it.
 
If you want to view medical records held by other NHS services or wish to view someone else’s records or the records of a deceased person then you need to make a formal request under the Data Protection Act (1998) and apply in writing to the holder(s) of the records. For example, if you can’t access your GP records online and wish to see a paper version, write to your GP or the practice manager. If you want to see your hospital records, write to the hospital’s patient’s services manager or medical records officer.

How can I get information in my records changed?

If you think that information in your health records is incorrect or your need to update your personal details (name, address, phone number), approach the relevant health professional informally and ask to have the record amended. Some hospitals and GP surgeries have online forms for updating your details. 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 organisation 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
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
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.

 

Do I have to pay to access my health records?

Online access to your GP records is free of charge. However, charges may apply if you wish to see the originals or get physical copies or your 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 a subject access request. More details about this can be found on the 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
  • £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 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).

Also see the section about how long well my records be kept for?

Comments

The 11 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

mobilesinger said on 14 May 2015

Hi. Interested to read that all GP practices were expected to have patients' Medical Records ONLINE by April 2015. In my area, NONE of the ten practices have this up and running in May. I wonder what %age have achieved this facility in the UK ?

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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 www.nigb.nhs.uk/pubs/amendrecords 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 www.medconfidential.org/how-to-opt-out. 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: 07/04/2015

Next review due: 07/04/2017

Accessing someone else’s medical records

Find out under what circumstances you may be allowed to access someone else’s medical records

Accessing the records of a deceased person

Find out how to request access to the medical records of someone who has died

Keeping your online health and social care records safe and secure

Guidance is available to help you understand what an electronic health and care record is, how you can access it, who you may want to share it with and how to perform these actions securely. This guidance was created by the Department of Health, working in collaboration with BCS, the Chartered Institute of IT, in 2013.

Download the patient guidance booklets:

NHS complaints

If you're not happy with the care you've received, you have the right to complain. Find out how

Digital inclusion

Digital inclusion is a term for initiatives that help people lacking basic internet skills gain access to online services