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Accessing medical records

Important update: current timescales on processing access requests

It is a requirement that all requested medical records are reviewed by a NHS England health professional to authorise the disclosure of patient data.  The team responsible for reviewing and redacting records are currently experiencing delays of up to 10 weeks.  As a result, please be aware that requests for access to medical records are currently taking longer than one calendar month to process.

This delay is as a result of action taken by NHS England in response to an incident earlier in the year, which paused reviews of records until a robust review of the process was completed. Changes were agreed that allowed for the process to be restarted, with measures in place to better safeguard patients medical records. This has however had an impact on NHS England’s ability to respond in the required timeframe. NHS England is working hard to respond to requests as quickly as possible.


If you are an insurer, please download our guide available here.

The Data Protection Act (2018) gives an individual the right to ask for a copy of the information an organisation holds about them – this right is commonly known as a subject access request (SAR). Subject access requests can be made as follows:

  • A request for information from health records has to be made with the organisation that holds the health records – the data controller. For example, the GP, optician or dentist.
  • For hospital health records, the individual should contact the records manager or patient services manager at the relevant hospital trust. You can find a list of hospital trusts on the NHS Choices website.

GP Health Records for un-registered or deceased individuals

NHS England is the data controller of GP health records where an individual is not currently registered with a GP or is deceased. To request access to your own health records or those of a deceased person, the most efficient way to submit the request is to complete the application form which can be downloaded here.  This will ensure all the relevant details are captured and will avoid confusion or misunderstanding.  The application form contains information regarding your rights and how your application will be dealt with. Please take the time to read it carefully.

To receive a copy of a medical record, appropriate identification documents must be provided. If you are making the application as an individual’s legal representative (e.g. a solicitor), we need to receive written authorisation from the applicant for you to act on their behalf and receive their medical record.

Please send your completed application form and copies of relevant identification documentation via email to pcse.accessrequests@nhs.net. If you are unable to submit your request via email please forward your completed application to the following postal address:

FAO Access Team
Primary Care Support England
3 Caxton Road

If you have any queries please email us at: pcse.accessrequests@nhs.net or call us on: 0333 014 2884.

You can find more information about accessing health records on the NHS Choices website.

You can find more detail on your information rights on the NHS England website here.

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