Access to Health Records Under the Data Protection Act 1998
The Data Protection Act 1998 gives every living person the right to apply for access to their health records or have factual errors corrected. Any request for access to health records must be made in writing on the relevant form obtained from the practice and sent to the Practice Director. Under the Data Protection Act 1998 (Fees and Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations 2001, you will be charged to view or be provided with copies of your health records.
Applicants may be:
- The patient
- A representative of the patient with their written permission
- A person having parental responsibility for a child, if it is in the child's best interests and not contrary to a competent child's wishes
- A person appointed by a court when the patient is incapable of managing his own affairs. When a patient has died, an application for access to the medical records can only be accepted with the written permission of the patient's personal representative. That person will either be an executer of the estate or, if the patient died intestate, the administrator of the estate.
To provide copies of patient health records the costs are:
- Health records held totally on computer: up to a maximum £10 charge
- Health records held in part on computer and in part manually: up to a maximum £50 charge
- Health records held totally manually: up to a maximum £50 charge
To allow patients to view their health records (where no copy is required) the costs are:
- Health records held totally on computer: up to a maximum £10 charge, unless the records have been added to in the last 40 days.
- Health records held manually: up to a maximum £10 charge, unless the records have been added to in the last 40 days.
- Health records held in part on computer and in part manually: a maximum of £10 unless the records have been added to in the last 40 days.
- Note: if a person wishes to view their health records and then wants to be provided with copies, the £10 maximum fee for viewing records would be included within the £50 maximum fee for copies of health records.
Under the Data Protection Act 1998, there is no obligation to comply with an access request unless the practice has enough information to identify the applicant and locate the information and unless the required fee has been paid. You will therefore be asked to complete an application form. When coming to the surgery to view or collect a copy of the records you will be asked to provide a form of photographic identification such as a passport.
Once the practice has all the relevant information and fee where relevant, we will comply with the request promptly, within 21 days and by no later than forty days after the request has been made. In exceptional circumstances if it is not possible to comply within the forty-day period you will be informed. A senior member of the Practice staff will be present when you view the records to assist you in understanding the information in the records.
Under the Data Protection Act 1998 there are certain circumstances in which the practice may withhold information. Access may be denied, or limited, where the information might cause serious harm to the physical or mental health or condition of the patient, or any other person. Access may also be denied where it would involve disclosing information relating to or provided by a third person who had not consented to the disclosure.