How do I access my medical records (health records)?

If you want to view your health records, you may not need to make a formal application. Nothing in the law prevents healthcare professionals from informally showing you your own records.

There are two types of medical record you can ask to see:

  • medical records held by a healthcare provider that has treated you
  • a summary care record (SCR) created by your GP 

Medical records

Your medical record is a history of your healthcare, including treatments, medication, allergies, test results, X-rays and scans.

Whenever you visit an NHS service in England a medical record (also called a health record) is created.

This means medical information about you can be held in various places, such as your GP surgery, dental practice or hospital.

You have a legal right to apply for access to your medical records. You do not need to give a reason.

A request for your medical records should be made directly with the healthcare provider that provided the treatment, such as:

This is known as a Subject Access Request (SAR), as set out by the Data Protection Act of 1998.

Many healthcare providers have SAR forms that you can complete and return by email or by post. Here is an example of an SAR form on the North Bristol NHS Trust website.

You may have to pay a fee to access your medical records. Find out how much you'll have to pay to see your records.

An SAR should be met within 40 days. However, the healthcare provider should aim to get back to you within 21 days.

A SAR may not always be necessary because:

  • you may be able to approach the healthcare provider informally to ask to see your medical records
  • many GP surgeries now offer their patients access to their GP medical records online

Another person can access your health records but only with your permission. Find out how to access someone else’s health records.

Unregistered or deceased patients

Primary Care Support England (PCSE) stores medical records of patients who are not currently registered with a GP practice or deceased.

To request access to your own health records or those of a deceased person, you will need to complete an application form from the PCSE website.

These are GP medical records only. PCSE does not keep X-rays, hospital records or records relating to private treatment.

For access to any other types of records you should contact the doctor, clinic or hospital that created them.

For more information, read how to access the health records of someone who has died.

Summary care record (SCR)

If you are registered with a GP practice in England your SCR is created automatically, unless you opted out.

Your SCR contains the following information: 

  • current medication
  • allergies and details of any previous bad reactions to medicines
  • name, address, date of birth and NHS number

You can also choose to include additional information in the SCR, such as details of long-term conditions and significant medical history.

Your SCR can be accessed by other healthcare providers to speed up your care and make sure you are given the right medicines and treatment.

GP practices are required to provide their patients online access to their SCR.

Further information:

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