Access to Medical Records and Data Protection

Access to your own medical records

Under the Data Protection Act 1998, you have a legal right to apply for access to health information held about you. This includes information held by your GP on computer and in paper form. You do not have to give a reason for your request. You may apply to view your medical records or request a copy.

Third party access to medical records

Health records are confidential so you can only access someone else’s records if you are authorised to do so. To access someone else’s health records, you must be acting on their behalf with their written consent, or have legal authority to make decisions on their behalf (power of attorney), or have another legal basis for access.

Access to medical records of a deceased person

The Access to Health Records Act 1990 gives the personal representative of the deceased, or those who may have a claim arising out of the death of the individual, a right to access the medical record of the deceased. The Data Protection Act 1998 gives every living person, or their authorised representative, the right to apply for access to their medical records irrespective of when they were compiled. The exception to this is the records of deceased patients, which are still governed by the Access to Health Records Act 1990.