NHS Complaints

Accessing your Medical Records

How it works

Patient medical records include any records kept by a GP, hospital, clinic or other NHS service or staff member such as a dentist or physiotherapist.

They show the dates of consultations (in person and over the phone) and the details of your care and treatment including: medication; tests and test results; diagnosis; referrals made to other services; letters, reports and emails.

All NHS staff have a duty to keep all records safe and confidential.


Your rights

Under current law, including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) [Regulation (EU) 2016/679], you have a right to see and have copies of records, except if:

  1. The doctor or other health care professional responsible for your care has decided that to do so would seriously cause harm to your (or another person’s) physical or mental health or condition. This decision can apply to part of your records and they do not have to let you know.


    You may wish to ask if any part of your records has not been made available and, if so, the reason why and when this decision can be reviewed.

  2. Providing the records would give you information relating to another person who has not consented to this information being shared.

  3. An individual has made clear that they do not want their records to be disclosed to someone else, even if that person has a right to make the request on behalf of the individual (e.g. the parent of a child or someone appointed to manage the affairs of an individual who lacks capacity).


To find out more about how organisations should look after your data, or raise a concern or complaint, go to the Information Commissioner’s Office website https://ico.org.uk/your-data-matters/

Or call their Helpline on 0303 123 1113.


How do I ask for copies of my records?


You can apply to see your records by making a Subject Access Request (SAR). The SAR must be made in writing and most GP Practices and NHS Trusts have a form that you will be asked to complete.

Most NHS Trusts also have a named-person, responsible for dealing with SARs.

Records should be provided as soon as possible and no more than one month of receipt of the SAR.

Copies of the information must be free of charge.

However, they can charge a ‘reasonable fee’ (cost of administration) or decide not to respond when a request is manifestly unfounded or excessive, for example, repeated requests for copies of the same information. If they decide this, they must explain why as soon as possible and certainly within a month. You have a right to appeal such a decision.


What if I’m applying to see someone else’s records?

You must have the patient’s authorisation in writing.

You can only request your child’s records if your child does not understand what is being done.

Where a patient is unable to give permission because of incapacity or illness, you may need to seek legal advice and a court authorisation.

If the patient is deceased, then the Access to Health Records Act 1990 applies.


Records can only be obtained by a Personal Representative of the deceased (the executor or administrator of their estate) or someone who may have a claim arising out of the death unless; the deceased specifically requested in the records that they did not want that person to have access to their records after their death.


What if I think my records are inaccurate?

You can ask for them to be corrected.

If the NHS Trust or health professional disagrees with the changes you want to make, you can ask for a note recording your disagreement to be attached to the records.