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Medical records and your rights

Know your rights when accessing your medical records:

When you are seen by a healthcare professional, they update your medical record with information about your condition and treatment provided. But are you able to access these medical records when you need them? Eddie Jones, Partner and Head of Department for Clinical Negligence, JMW Solicitors takes a look at your rights to access your medical records.

What are medical records?

A medical record includes information about your:

  • Test results
  • Recordings of telephone calls
  • X-rays and scans
  • Letters from doctors and other healthcare professionals
  • Prescriptions
  • Notes of clinical appointments

Why would I want to access my medical records?

Understanding your condition or treatment better, or getting ready to make a complaint if you have concerns about your medical care, are some of the most frequent reasons for accessing medical records. You may also want to check your medical history out of curiosity.

Am I able to request access to my medical records?

Yes. You are entitled by law to access your own records. You do not need to justify why you want to see them.

Is there a reason I would be unable to access the records?

Your request can be turned down if the records also concern another person.

Can I nominate someone else to view my records for me?

Yes. You can nominate someone else, for example, a solicitor, to view your records. You must provide written consent. Without this consent, your medical records are strictly confidential. No one should be allowed to see them without consent unless they are a relevant healthcare professional or have legal rights to deal with your affairs.

Do I have to pay to view my records?

No. Under General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), accessing your medical records is free. If you are being asked to pay to access your financial records, please contact your record holder or seek advice from a solicitor who specialises in such matters.

How do I access my medical records?

You can access your GP records online by registering for your GP’s online services or via the NHS app.

You can request your non-GP medical records in writing. You may wish to do this if:

  • You want hard copies of records
  • You do not have online access
  • You do not want to use online services

Take a look at our step-by-step guide to formally requesting your medical records.

Step 1

Find out where your records are held. Your GP should be able to tell you this.

Step 2

Write a letter or email making a formal request for copies of your records. Include information on exactly what you want to see.

Step 3

Reply as soon as you can if you are asked for more information. Keep records of any correspondence.

What if I do not hear back?

Most healthcare providers aim to respond to requests within three weeks. If you do not hear back within this time, write again or call to request an update.

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