Accessing medical records

Health and medical records will be held about you at your GP surgery, or in a hospital if you have had any appointments or treatment there. You should be able to request to see your records, though there may be a cost.

How to access your records

Your doctor's surgery holds your health records. A hospital holds records of any treatment you have had there. You have the right to view these under the Data Protection Act 1998.

You can simply ask your GP, surgery staff or Health Trust if you can inspect your health records. However, it is recommended that you apply for access in writing by sending a letter.

There is usually a charge and you may be asked for proof of identity. According to the Data Protection Act, the hospital or surgery has 40 days to respond to a request in writing.

If the records are held at a hospital, you should address the letter to your hospital's records manager and your records, when presented to you, should be in a format that you understand.

If access to records is denied

You will not be allowed access to your records if:

  • healthcare professionals believe that information in the records is likely to cause serious harm to you or another person
  • details about third parties are included in the records - these may be removed

However, if you are denied access, you can approach the Information Commissioner's Office if you think the organisation has breached the Data Protection Act.

Cost of accessing your medical records

The organisation has the right to charge a fee for access to your health records. It will make you aware of the fee.

Accessing someone else's records

If you are applying for medical records on behalf of someone else, you will need their consent or a power of attorney.

Accessing a deceased person's medical record

To access the health records of someone who has died, you need to apply to the GP or Health Trust under the Access to Health Records (NI) Order 1993.


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