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Previous Records

Previous Medical Records are often very helpful when assessing a patient, they’re also useful in situations like foreign travel overseas or when changing surgeries. For example when someone is moving cities, it’s a good idea for them to ask for a copy of their records before they leave, that way when they move and register with a new surgery they can give the new surgery a copy of their records on Day 1 instead of waiting for the admin systems to send the actual records from the old surgery.

For most people in the UK who are registered with an NHS GP Practice the medical records are held by that registered practice and any individual is allowed to have a copy of their records – this is called a Subject Access Request (SAR). Under the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) a SAR for records must be provided free of charge and “within a reasonable timeframe”, a week is usually considered reasonable. SAR can also be made to any hospital or other health service.

There are very few exceptions to a SAR such as when the records hold information that might be harmful to the patient or to another person and even in those circumstances it’s good practice to provide the patient with as much as possible of their records and state that further records may be available.

One special situation is when a patient wants their records as part of a complaint or legal action against the surgery, hospital or service. In that situation it’s a good idea – but not obligatory – to advise that’s why the SAR is being made.

Many surgeries have a standard process for requesting a copy of the records, often that’s a “GDPR Form” that has to be filled out. It’s a good idea for patients who make a SAR to keep a copy of the form or make note of the date it was submitted so that they can chase up if they don’t hear back.

If a surgery doesn’t have a standard process then – even if a verbal request is acceptable – it’s a good idea to make a formal written request and a template is provided below.

<Your Address>

<Date>

<Name of Practice Manager or GP Partner>

<Name of Surgery>

<Address of Surgery>

Dear <Name>,

I am <your full name> of <your address>, my date of birth is <your birthday>.

Please provide me with a full copy of my records which I require for <my own records // my own interest // my healthcare elsewhere>. If necessary then please consider this request to be a formal Subject Access Request under the provisions of the GDPR and DPA as applicable. If you find an exception to the SAR then please advise of the reason as soon as possible. If you can’t meet the SAR within <one week // two weeks> then, as soon as possible, please can you tell me the date you’ll be able to supply my records to me.

I would like a copy of my records from <my birth // insert date> till <now // insert date>.

Please include all the practice notes, test results and hospital communications that you have about me.

Yours sincerely,