What are health records?
The Data Protection Act covers personal information including health records.
A health record is any record of information relating to someone's physical or mental health that has been made by (or on behalf of) a health professional. This could be anything from the notes made by a GP in your local surgery to results of an MRI scan or X-rays.
Health records are extremely personal and sensitive. They can be held electronically or as paper files, and are kept by a range of different health professionals both in the NHS and the private sector.
For the purpose of the Data Protection Act, a registered health professional can be one of the following people:
- A medical practitioner - this could be a GP, consultant or hospital doctor
- A dentist
- An optician
- A pharmaceutical chemist
- A nurse, midwife or health visitor
- An osteopath
- A chiropractor
- A clinical psychologist, child psychotherapist or speech therapist
- A music therapist
- A scientist employed by a health service body as head of department
- Anyone registered as a member of a profession to which the Health Professionals Order 2001
How can I obtain my records?
The Data Protection Act gives you the right to see your health records by making a subject access request.
Further information is available on the NHS Choices website.
In the future, health records in England will be stored and shared electronically. You can read more about this on our NHS electronic care records page.
What can I do if I'm not satisfied?
If you're unhappy about the way your request has been treated and you have exhausted any internal review procedures, we may be able to help.
How can I access official information from medical establishments?
The Freedom of Information Act gives you the right to access official information from public authorities including medical establishments. You have the right to request official information, for example about how the establishment is run, by letter or email.
Find out how to make a request under the Freedom of Information Act.