Skip navigation |

Access to records

The Data Protection Act (1998) gives every living person or their authorised representative the right to apply for access to their health records to obtain copies irrespective of when they were compiled.

This applies to computerised information and manually written information including handwritten clinical notes, letters to and from other health professionals, laboratory reports, radiographs and other imaging records e.g. X-rays and printouts from monitoring equipment, photographs, videos and tape recordings of telephone conversations.

To make a request you need to apply in writing or by email to the holder of your records, i.e. a GP or hospital. You do not need to give any reasons for your request. Access is possible to both NHS and private medical records. The Act also gives people who now live abroad, but formerly lived in UK, the right to apply for access to their records.

There is generally a charge for access to records.

To see the Data Protection Act visit:
www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998/29/contents

There is also a guidance document called Access to Health Records Act 1990 aimed at providing advice on the procedure of accessing records. To see this visit:
www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts1990

Medical reports for insurance or employers

Under the Access to Medical Reports Act (1988), an employer or insurance company may not apply to your doctor for a medical report about you without first notifying you and informing you of your rights under the Act.

You have a right to see the report before it is sent and you can request a copy. If you believe the report is inaccurate of misleading you can ask the doctor to amend it. If this is refused you can ask for a statement of your views to be attached to the report. A copy of the report should be kept by the doctor for up to six months.