Accessing your medical records

Who do medical records belong to?

To the patient.

Do I need a reason to obtain a copy of my medical records?


Who holds my medical records?

Your GP holds your GP records at your local health centre.

Your hospital notes and records are kept by the Health Trust that manages the hospital.

What legislation deals with access to medical records generally?

The General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018.

What do I do to get a copy of my medical records?

You must write to your GP or Health Trust seeking a copy of the records. You will normally have to supply a copy of some sort of photographic ID to confirm your identity. Most GP’s and Health Trusts have a website which sets out in more detail what documentation is required to enable you to access your medical records. Some have pro forma consent forms prepared already.

Do I have to pay for my records?

No fee is payable.

How long must I wait for the records?

Normally, the medical body concerned has one month to get the records to you. If the request is more complicated, this can be extended by another 2 months.

Can my request be refused?

Yes, in very limited circumstances where:

  • healthcare professionals believe that information in the records is likely to cause serious harm or distress to you or another person
  • details about third parties are included in the records. These details will have to be deleted

Do I have a right of appeal if my request is refused?

Yes, you may appeal to the Information Commissioner's Office.

How can I get my child’s records?

You will have to show that you have parental responsibility for the child in question. The child’s consent may also be necessary even if the child is under the age of 16 if they have the capacity to consent.

Can I obtain the records of a dead relative?

The Access to Health Records (NI) Order 1993 applies in such instances and not the GDPR or the Data Protection Act, 2018. Due to a duty of confidentiality that remains after a person’s death, access can only be provided in limited circumstances. You can find out from the relevant Trust or GP what documentation is required. Persons entitled to apply will include the personal representatives named in a grant of representation in respect of the deceased’s estate or where someone has a claim arising from the death. However, even this right is tempered:

  • if there is evidence that the deceased did not wish for any or part of their information to be disclosed
  • if disclosure of the information would cause serious harm to the physical or mental health of any person
  • if disclosure would identify a third party (that is, not the patient nor a healthcare professional) who has not consented to that disclosure

If the record was made within 40 days of the request, there should be no charge for the record and they should be provided within 21 days of the request. If the record was made more than 40 days before the request, then it must be disclosed within 40 days and any fee for the records should not exceed the fee noted in section 7 of the Data Protection Act, 1998 (currently £10).

Can my solicitor obtain my medical records?

Yes. You will have to sign a written authority prepared by your solicitor or the health professional concerned that allows access to your records. You will normally also have to give copy photographic ID as well.

Will my solicitor have to pay for my records?

The same rules and fees that apply to you apply to your solicitor. Your solicitor is acting as your agent.

If there is a power of attorney, can my attorney access my medical records?

That depends on the nature of the power of attorney. If the power of attorney gives your attorney power to access and copy your medical records, then they will be disclosed to your attorney. The health professional concerned will likely ask for sight of the power of attorney.

What happens if my records are disclosed to someone without my authority?

Such unlawful disclosure will be in breach of the GDPR and the Data Protection Act, 2018. This is a serious matter and you can make a complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office. You will also have a right of action for damages against the person or body who made the unlawful disclosure.

However, there are specific instances where it is lawful to disclose records without your consent:

  • where required by law
  • where required by a court order
  • where necessary to detect or prevent crime, including allegations or suspicions of fraud
  • where necessary to protect the public from serious harm, for example, the protection of vulnerable adults
  • where required for monitoring certain health conditions
  • monitoring of death

Who are the Kearney Law Group?

The Kearney Law Group are a legal firm that only does personal injury law. We are passionate about our work and are easy to talk to. We are tech savvy and use software platforms to ensure your case is dealt with expeditiously and professionally.

We only do personal injury law and are experts at it.

For further assistance please ring us at 02890 912 938 or email us on [email protected] or fill in our contact form

The content of this blog is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other advice. No solicitor/client relationship or duty of care or liability of any nature shall exist or arise between the Kearney Law Group and you and we refer you to our disclaimer on our website.

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