Health Records – Access and Disclosure

Access to Health Records

The BMA has published guidance on Access to Health Records (August 2014) which can be used to respond to requests for access to health records, to find out what a health record is, to get advice on record-keeping and know how to deal with requests about living patients, and to find out about health records for deceased patients.


Disclosure for Secondary Purposes

How to respond to requests for disclosure of data for secondary purposes (August 2014) will help health professionals when considering how to respond requests, such as from researchers, NHS managers who require the data for health service planning or private companies providing risk stratification services.


Insurance Company Request under Data Protection Act (DPA)

It has been determined by the Information Commissioner that it is inappropriate for insurance companies to make requests for patient information via a Data Protection Act subject access request rather than asking for a report under the arrangements agreed between the BMA and the Association of British Insurers, and the ICO has written accordingly to insurance companies.

However, some insurance companies may still be making applications for patient medical records via this route and the LMC recommends that the first response of any practice receiving such a request should be to go back to the insurance company saying that it is not an appropriate request.  A template letter is available here.

In addition, you may wish to write to your patient regarding the request and the LMC offers a further template letter here.

Please note that this does not apply to requests from solicitors. 

However, where requests are received from third parties (eg solicitors) for SARS, it is important to note the ICO Code of Practice which states that


'In these cases, you need to be satisfied that the third party making the request is entitled to act on behalf of the individual, but it is the third party's responsibility to provide evidence of this entitlement. This might be a written authority to make the request or it might be a more general power of attorney.”

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Updated on Wednesday, 23 October 2019


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