Under the DPA 2018, patients have the right to request access to their own medical records under a Subject Access Request (SAR) without charge, including situations where they give consent for a third party such as a solicitor or insurer to access the data.

Under the updated data protection regime a patient’s request to access their records (commonly known as a subject access request (SAR) must now be processed free of charge and within one month unless the request is “manifestly unfounded” or “excessive”.

While the costs of providing initial copies need to be borne by the GP practice, it’s worth knowing that further copies can be charged for.

There are a number of different types of health record, accessing them is free, and healthcare professionals have a legal requirement to allow you to see them.  

More information here: https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/about-the-nhs/how-to-access-your-health-records/

GP records

GP records include information about your medication, allergies, vaccinations, previous illnesses and test results, hospital discharge summaries, appointment letters and referral letters. 

You can ask a GP surgery to provide your record

You can access your GP records, and nominate someone you trust to access them, through GP online services.

Visit GP online services here: https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/nhs-services/gps/gp-online-services/

You may also want to see information about GP online services for carers here:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/pat-guid-gp-online-services-carers.pdf

Guidance on your rights to access your personal information

The ICO (Information Commissioner's Office ) is the UK's independent body set up to uphold information rights.  They have published guidance.  Find out more about your personal data rights here: https://ico.org.uk/your-data-matters/

Your right of access

You have the right to find out if an organisation is using or storing your personal data. This is called the right of access. You exercise this right by asking for a copy of the data, which is commonly known as making a ‘subject access request’.

More information here: https://ico.org.uk/your-data-matters/your-right-of-access/

How to access information from a public body

Under the Freedom of Information Act and the Environmental Information Regulations you have a right to request any recorded information held by a public authority, such as a government department, local council or state school. Environmental information requests can also be made to certain non-public bodies carrying out a public function.

Can a public authority charge for a request?

Yes, a public authority can charge you for the costs of sending the information, such as photocopying and postage. These are known as 'disbursements'.

More information here: https://ico.org.uk/your-data-matters/official-information/

The Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA) and the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) gives an individual the right to ask for a copy of the information an organisation holds about them – this right is commonly known as a Subject Access Request (SAR). Subject Access Requests can be made as follows:

  • A request for information from health records has to be made with the organisation that holds the health records – the data controller. For example, the GP, optician or dentist.
  • For hospital health records, the individual should contact the records manager or patient services manager at the relevant hospital trust. You can find a list of hospital trusts on the NHS Choices website.

Primary Care Support England

See: https://pcse.england.nhs.uk/services/gp-records/accessing-medical-records/

If you have any queries please

Email Primary Care Support England at: [email protected] or

Phone them on: 0333 014 2884.

You can find more information about accessing health records on the NHS Choices website.

You can find more detail on your information rights on the NHS England website here: https://www.england.nhs.uk/contact-us/privacy-notice/how-to-access-your-personal-information-or-make-a-request-in-relation-to-other-rights/.