Your health records

Your doctor and other NHS healthcare professionals caring for you need to keep records about your health and any treatment and care you receive from the NHS. These records help to ensure that you receive the best possible care and healthcare professionals have the most accurate, up-to-date information about you, while any concerns you may have can be properly investigated.

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Health records may include:

  • Details such as name, address and date of birth
  • Contact history such as clinic visits
  • Notes and reports about your health
  • Whether you have any allergies
  • Whether you are currently taking any medication
  • Details and records about your treatment and care
  • Results of x-rays and other tests
  • Hospital admission records

How health records are used

Some of the information on your health record is held centrally and used for statistical purposes. Where this is the case, strict measures ensure that individual patients cannot be identified.

Where we need to use identifiable information for essential purposes, we will only ever use this information with your consent, unless the law requires us to pass on the information. We will ensure that appropriate information is available if you see another health professional or are referred to a specialist or another part of the NHS.

Who information is shared with

We may share information with the following main partners:

  • NHS hospital trusts and other care providers
  • General practitioners (GPs)
  • Ambulance services
  • Clinical commissioning groups
  • NHS England
  • NHS commissioning support units
  • External suppliers providing healthcare services to the NHS

We may also share your information with:

  • Social services
  • Education services
  • Local authorities
  • Voluntary sector providers
  • Private sector providers
  • Police and judicial services

Ensuring confidentiality

Under the Data Protection Act (1998) all staff working for the NHS have a legal duty to keep personal information confidential. We never disclose your information to any third party without your permission unless there are exceptional circumstances (such as when the health and safety of others is at risk or it is required by law). Anyone who receives information from us is legally bound to keep it confidential.

Access to your health records

If you want to view your health records, you may not need to make a formal application. Healthcare professionals can informally show you your own records, and you can make an informal request during a consultation or by phoning your GP surgery or hospital.

Under the Data Protection Act 1998 you have a legal right to apply for access to health information held about you, and you don’t have to give a reason.

You should submit your request in writing or by email to your GP, optician, dentist or hospital. The health records manager, GP or other healthcare professional will then decide whether your request can be approved. A request can be refused if, for example, it is believed that releasing the information may cause serious harm to your physical or mental health or that of another person.

Under the Data Protection Act, requests for access to records should be met within 40 days. However, government guidance for healthcare organisations says they should aim to respond within 21 days.

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