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Confidentiality and accessing health records

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Can my doctor tell my family about my treatment and care?

A doctor can’t share any information about your care or treatment with your family or anyone else close to you unless you give them permission to do this.

If someone close to you has concerns about your health, your doctor can listen to them but cannot guarantee that they won’t share details of the conversation with you.

How do I access my health records?

Any record of information about your health made by a healthcare professional in relation to your care is called a ‘health record.’Health records can include things like:

  • letters from your doctor
  • x-rays
  • test results
  • notes made during your consultations

In person

You can ask to see your health records and you don’t need to give a reason. The healthcare professional should be able to show you your records at any time, free of charge.

Getting copies

If you’d like copies of your health records, you’ll need to make a formal application. This is called a Subject Access Request and it must be made in writing to whoever holds the record.

Once the request has been received, you should be told the fees involved. The cost will depend on where the copies are stored, for example if they’re on a computer or not. The person or organisation that holds your record is allowed to charge up to:

  • £10 for records that are only held on a computer
  • £50 for paper-based records or other records that aren’t available electronically

Once they’ve received the fee and all the information they need to process your request, they must send you the copies within 40 days.

You can find more information on making a Subject Access Request including template letters on the Information Commissioner’s Office website.