The UK’s independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.

Health

What are health records?

The Data Protection Act covers personal information including health records.

A health record is any record of information relating to someone's physical or mental health that has been made by (or on behalf of) a health professional. This could be anything from the notes made by a GP in your local surgery to results of an MRI scan or X-rays.

Health records are extremely personal and sensitive. They can be held electronically or as paper files, and are kept by a range of different health professionals both in the NHS and the private sector.

For the purpose of the Data Protection Act, a registered health professional can be one of the following people:

  • A medical practitioner - this could be a GP, consultant or hospital doctor
  • A dentist
  • An optician
  • A pharmaceutical chemist
  • A nurse, midwife or health visitor
  • An osteopath
  • A chiropractor
  • A clinical psychologist, child psychotherapist or speech therapist
  • A music therapist
  • A scientist employed by a health service body as head of department
  • Anyone registered as a member of a profession to which the Health Professionals Order 2001

How can I obtain my records?

The Data Protection Act gives you the right to see your health records by making a subject access request.

What is care.data?

The NHS is currently rolling out a change to the way it stores and shares patient health records in England. The new system will allow those involved in providing health and care services to more easily assess how well they are doing, and where improvements need to be made.

Leaflets explaining the project in more detail will be delivered to households throughout January, and data gathering will begin in spring 2014.

If you are happy for your information to be shared you do not need to do anything. If you have any questions or are not happy for information about you to be shared, contact your GP practice.

For more information visit the NHS Choices website at www.nhs.uk/caredata, speak to staff at your GP practice or call the NHS care.data patient information line on: 0300 456 3531.

View an illustrated graphic explaining the changes.

What can I do if I'm not satisfied?

If you believe that you have not received all the data that you are entitled to you should write back to the organisation letting them know what data you think is missing. For further advice see our guide to subject access requests.

How can I access official information from medical establishments?

The Freedom of Information Act gives you the right to access official information from public authorities including medical establishments. You have the right to request official information, for example about how the establishment is run, by letter or email.

Find out how to make a request under the Freedom of Information Act.