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Access to Medical records - Police & other requestors

I would like to access a medical record for someone who is deceased, how do I find out what their last registered GP practice was?

PCSE are happy to help provide you with this information. Please email with your request.

Following the recent changes for requesting deceased medical records, who should we now contact to request access to the medical record?

PCSE will process this request for you, click here.

Please note however, PCSE do not have access to the patient’s digital record and can only provide copies of a Health Record which we hold in storage.

There may be instances where parts of a person’s medical record may be held with Hospital, Community or Mental Health trusts, as well as any previous primary care practice(s). PCSE cannot provide access to these records, and you may wish to make a separate application to the relevant Health Organisation

The GP Practice has refused to redact the medical records, what should I do?

GPs are legally obliged to follow the Access to Health Records Act 1990, as the GP is the record holder as per s3(2) of the Act. If a practice refused to process the request, the requestor should complain to the GP practice and/or raise the issue with NHS England, please see NHS England » Complaining to NHS England.

What if the practice where the patient was last registered has merged with another practice?

If there has been a practice merger since the patient has died, please contact the practice that it has been merged with.

I have been advised to contact the deceased's last registered practice as the records are incomplete/illegible.

This may happen if the NHSE Health Professional, in the process of disclosing the records, finds that the records are either incomplete or contain illegible notes.

This is because PCSE do not hold the notes in question and they are still retained with the last practice. You would need to direct the request to the last registered practice for the missing/illegible notes.

As the GDPR/DPA only applies to living individuals, the concept of a data controller does not apply to records for the deceased.

Practices remain legally responsible for copies of records retained on local systems. Where a practice retains a copy (be it paper or electronic) of a deceased patient’s record, they are legally obliged to consider it under AHRA. They may choose to direct applicants to PCSE, but must also be prepared to respond directly if an applicant insists on accessing data retained by the practice.

I've submitted a request for access to a medical record. What happens next?

When an application is received by the Access to Health Records team, the steps listed in this guide,  detail the process that the application will follow. Applicants who require an update at any stage of the application should contact our Customer Support Centre on 0333 014 2884.

I've received the decision on disclosure and I wish to appeal the decision.

To appeal a decision on disclosure please email

Please ensure to include a statement as to why you wish to appeal the decision.

If your appeal is accepted, it will be passed to the NHS England Redaction team to review the initial decision.

I've received a copy of a medical record, but it doesn't contain a full medical history or is not what I was expecting. What should I do?

A record may not always contain the patient's full medical history. PCSE can only provide you with the information we hold.

If there are missing years, please contact the GP Practice where the patient was registered during the period you are missing the information.


PCSE will consult an appropriate health professional who will review the records and decide which records may be released.

There are certain circumstances in which the health professional may deny access to the complete records or to certain parts of the record:

The Health Professional has deemed notes not suitable for disclosure, as they are not within the scope of the request.

Where an individual other than the patient (and appropriate health professionals) could be identified from the information (unless the individual consents).

The deceased person stated that they did not wish for any part of their records to be released after death, or the information contained within the records was such that the deceased person expected them to remain confidential.

Access cannot be given to records made prior to November 1991.


If you wish to speak to someone regarding this, please contact:, or phone 0333 014 2884.

How long does it take to process a request for medical records?

If you or the person whose records you are requesting on behalf of are unregistered, PCSE will process the access application within 28 days.

In certain circumstances, this may not be possible (for example, where the record cannot be traced, or is held by a third party storage provider outside of the control of PCSE.)


If you are requesting records for a deceased person, GP practices are required to respond to Access to Health Records Act (AHRA) requests, however PCSE will process the Access to Health Records request if the last registered GP Practice has now closed. 

In these circumstances, if the request for a medical record is under the Access to Health Records Act 1990, PCSE will process the access application within 40 days. In certain circumstances, this may not be possible (for example, where the record cannot be traced, or is held by a third party storage provider outside of the control of PCSE.)

PCSE will update the applicant on likely timescales.

What information should a medical record hold?

On behalf of NHS England, the NHS GP Practice medical records for patients should include information about:

  • medication
  • allergies
  • vaccinations
  • previous illnesses
  • test results
  • hospital discharge summaries
  • appointment letters
  • referral letters

Sometimes these records don’t always contain a full medical history.

What information can PCSE provide me with?

Medical Records - Primary Care Support England can only provide a copy of GP health records. Other parts of a patient’s health record may be held by hospitals, community or mental health trusts, as well as previous GP practices. We cannot provide access to these records, and you therefore may wish to apply separately to another health organisation. Click here.

Primary Care Support England does not store:

  • X-rays/transparencies – these will remain with the relevant NHS trust
    · digital records
    · hospital records – apply to the NHS trust
    · private clinic records – available from the clinic concerned.


Patient GP Registration Information and demographic information PCSE receive requests from a range of individuals and organisations to access demographic information including last known GP Practice. Click here.