Access to Health Records
All patients have the right to see and receive a copy of information we hold about them in their Health Record. This is known as the right of subject access. This page informs you who can make a subject access request, and how to make one.
The right to subject access is contained within two acts of parliament:
- The Data Protection Act 1998 – covering access to the records of living individuals
- The Access to Health Records Act 1990 – covering access to the records of deceased patients.
Who can apply for access to health records?
Under the Data Protection Act 1998 you can apply for access if you are:
- The patient (you may apply for access to your own records)
- The patient’s representative. This could be a person with parental responsibility for a child (unless the child is 8-14 and is capable of understanding and consenting, then their consent is needed), a person authorised in writing by the patient to act on their behalf, or a person appointed by the court to act on behalf of the patient.
Under the Access to Health Records Act 1990 the only people who can apply for access are:
- A personal representative of a deceased patient and any person who may have a claim arising from the death.
Can information be withheld from you?
Under the Data Protection Act you, or your representative, has the right of access to information contained within your health record, except where:
- A health professional considers that giving access to that information would cause serious harm to the physical or mental health or condition of the patient or any other person
- Any information that identifies a third party, where the third party is not a health professional and has not consented to the disclosure
- Where the applicant is acting as a representative of the patient, who is capable of understanding the request for access, but where the applicant is not considered to be acting with the patient’s permission
- Where the patient is not capable of understanding the request for access, and it is considered that the release of information would not be in the best interests of the patient.
- Any information which is restricted by law from disclosure under other Acts of Parliament. These include the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Disclosure of Information) Act 1992, NHS (Veneral Diseases) Regulations 1974, NHS Trust (Veneral Diseases) Regulations 1991 and the Abortion Regulations 1991.
Under the Access to Health Records Act the patient’s representative has a right of access to all records kept on or after the 1st November 1991, or any records before that date if they are relevant in explaining records on or after the 1st November 1991. However, all the exceptions above for the Data Protection Act equally apply to the Access to Health Records Act. There is also an additional exemption:
- Access is not given to the patient’s representative, where that patient has explicitly requested that no access be given to records after their death.
How can I access the information you hold about me?
Under the Data Protection Act (1998) and the General Data Protection Regulation (2018), you have the right to request a copy of the information we hold about you, both on paper and electronic. Except for information that:
- Has been provided about you from someone else if they have not given permission for you to see it
- Relates to a 3rd party or individual
- Relates to crime offences and/or is being used for the detection or prevention of crime
- Could cause physical or mental harm to you or someone else
Your request must be made in writing (email is acceptable) and needs to include your full name, any pervious names know by, address, date of birth, NHS number (if known). You will also need to confirm if you require all records or records from care and treatment received at a specific service. You will be required to attend an identity verification appointment with proof of your identity to ensure we maintain your confidentiality.
Your request for access to your health record can be made using one of the following methods:
- Post: Data Protection Team, Livewell Southwest, Hatfield House, Burrington Way, Plymouth, PL5 3LZ
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For help and advice on accessing health records, please feel free to contact the Data Protection team on 01752 435111.
For access to your social care information, you will need to contact Plymouth City Council. More information on their procedures or for a copy of their application form, click here.
Data Protection Service
name (including any previous known names)
date of birth
contact number (if available)
£10 for computerised records only
£50 for a combination of computerised and/or copy of paper records
You do not need to give detailed information about your condition or the care that you received, however, it would help us if you could tell us which unit you attended and who treated you. This will ensure the prompt location of the records you wish to see. Please include details of where you wish us to send your notes. For personal representatives making applications, please include the details outlined above for yourself, and similar details for the person about whom you are making the request.
Once your request has been received by us, your notes will be located, copies made and arrangements will be made for you to receive them. This will be done within 40 days of receiving cleared payment of the associated fee. We will be in touch without throughout the process.