Data Protection Act 1998, (as amended) Your Right to Access Records

Currently the regulations under the Data Protection Act are being updated, and new rules come into effect this month.

Often when families are dealing with disputes, professional bodies will hide behind the Data Protection Act in order not to release information.

This often happens in wills, probates and trusts disputes.

It is also common under care act claims or disputes with health organisations or private hospitals or care homes.

One particular aspect that often causes difficulties, is access to medical records.

Under the Data Protection Act, living adults with capacity, or their representatives, can have access to their medical records, whether held by the GP, NHS or private hospital. Where there are no nominated individuals, request for access to information related to incapacitated adults, should be granted if it is in the ‘best interests’ of the patient.

A health record is any record which consists of information relating to the physical or mental health of an individual made by a health profession, in connection with the care of that individual.

This is not a complete this, but these comprise for the following:

  • A computerised or manual form
  • A medial opinion
  • Notes made during consultations
  • Correspondence between health professionals
  • Test results
  • X-rays, videotapes, audiotapes, photographs and tissue samples

Unless a particular record’s contents may be reasonably deemed to harm a patient psychologically and it cannot be redacted to remove those comments, full disclosure of all records must follow within 40 days of a request accompanied by the payment of the relevant administration fee.

Health records held on computer up to a maximum of £10;

Records held in part on computer and in part manually up to a maximum of £50.

It is important to note that in administration matters, if the patient has passed away, their executor may apply for their health records under the Access to Health Records Act 1990, in relation to which there are no maximum copying charges. GP’s records are generally maintained off site by the primary care trust for 10 years post death.

Often organisations will deny access to these records under the Data Protection Act. If needs be, information can also be obtained under ‘The Freedom of Information Act’ but this is a different procedure, and a request, one of which is a last resort before any court action is considered.

We have acted in a number of matters where these factors become relevant.

Should you require assistance please do not hesitate to contact us.