Medical records: Know your rights

After a grandmother was forced to hold a protest at her GP surgery to get hold of her medical records, ITV News Anglia has looked at what rights a patient has over their information.

The most important thing to know is: Patients have a legal right to see their medical records.

Under the Data Protection Act 1998, patients can apply for access to the health information held about them by a GP, optician, dentist or hospital.

You don't have to give a reason for wanting to see your health records, and you can submit your request in writing or by email to the GP surgery or hospital.

However, you may not need to make a formal request in writing.

On their website, the NHS says there's nothing in the law that prevents healthcare professionals from informally showing you your own records.

It adds that you can request to see your medical records during a consultation, or by phoning your GP surgery or hospital to arrange a time to see your records.

A GP or healthcare professional can only refuse your request if they believe that releasing the information may cause serious harm to the patient's 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.

You may have to pay a fee to access your health records, so it's a good idea to ask if there's a charge before applying.

For more information from the NHS about getting access to your medical records, visit here.

How can you get hold of your medical records? Credit: PA

The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) says you have the right to see most health records held about you, subject to certain safeguards.

On their website the CAB adds that you are also entitled to be informed of the uses of the information, who has access to them and how you can arrange to see your records.

You have a right, subject to certain safeguards, to see any medical report written for an employer, prospective employer or insurer, by a medical practitioner who has responsibility for your ongoing care, for example, your GP or consultant and any medical practitioner who has treated you in the past.

For more information from the CAB visit here.