Access to Health Records

The information on this page is intended for patients seeking copies of the information which the Trust holds about them.

 

Rights of access

Under the Data Protection Act 1998, any person (“data subject”) is entitled to view or have a permanent copy of the information relating to them which the Trust holds. This right of subject access can be exercised only by the data subject, or by somebody with lawful authority to act as the data subject (power of attorney, or parent/guardian of an immature child).

Family members and next of kin have no automatic right of access to records, even after a patient’s death. Power of attorney also ends at death. Under the Access to Health Records Act 1990, the health records of deceased patients may be accessed only by the patient’s personal representative (the executor of the will, or a person granted probate or letters of administration), or by any person with a claim arising from the death. We will ask for evidence of one of these, but will otherwise normally handle the application as if it were a subject access request.

If you are applying for a copy of health records for any non-medical purpose, with the patient’s written consent, we will normally handle the application as if it were a subject access request.

 

How to make a request

If you would like a copy of the health records which are created as a result of any particular appointment or episode of care, please ask your healthcare professional at the time. They will normally be able to provide you with a copy of simple records immediately, free of charge. For more complex or bulky records they may ask you to make a formal application as detailed below, where a charge will apply.

At any later time, or if your request would otherwise fall into any of the categories described above, please complete the application form and send it to our Subject Access Team at the address below.

If you are blind, partially-sighted, or have any other disability which would make it difficult for you to make the request in writing, please contact the Subject Access team as detailed at the end of this page.

 

Other types of disclosure

The Subject Access team is only able to deal with subject access requests and the other broadly-equivalent types of disclosure described above.

If you are seeking specific healthcare information about yourself, you should always contact your GP in the first instance, or else the relevant clinical department in which you were seen.

If you are a healthcare provider seeking access to records for healthcare purposes, please contact the relevant clinical department directly. A subject access request is unlikely to provide you with the information you need, as the Subject Access team cannot provide or confirm specific healthcare information.

If you are seeking disclosure of records without the patient’s consent, your request will be handled differently and you may be asked to provide alternative justification to ensure a lawful basis.

 

What you need to provide

You must provide written evidence of identity and, if you are not the patient, appropriate lawful authority to act on the patient’s behalf. The application form lists the evidence which is needed for each type of application.

If you are the parent/guardian of a child and are making an application on their behalf, please note that you can only act without their consent until they are old enough to understand the nature of the request for themselves. We therefore normally ask for the child’s consent if they are 12 years of age or over – see our Confidentiality and Data Protection Policy for more details.

We also ask that you enclose a cheque for £50, made payable to "Ashford & St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust". The £50 fee applies because the majority of our records are held in manual form. If you are specifically seeking only electronic records (such as X-Rays), the fee is instead £10.

If after starting to process your request we find that we hold only electronic records for you, or that a £50 charge would otherwise be unreasonable, we will refund you the difference by cheque.

If you are in receipt of benefits, or would otherwise experience genuine difficulty in paying the fee, please contact the team for further advice.

Please also note that the Subject Access team cannot provide Physiotherapy or Maternity records, for which you will need to apply directly to the service managers in those departments. 

The total fee will not exceed £50 for any one subject access request made to the Trust, even if several departments are involved in fulfilling it.

 

What you can expect from us

We provide photocopies of health records held in paper form, and CDs of radiology images and any other health records held electronically. We are not at this time able to provide electronic copies of records which we hold in manual form.

We seek to provide copies within a reasonable timeframe, aiming for the 21-day Department of Health guideline wherever practicable, which starts when we have received payment of the applicable fee and copies of all relevant evidence. However, we receive a significant volume of requests, each of which typically require large quantities of records to be located and copied, and so at present we are unlikely to meet this timeframe in most cases. We try to treat all applicants fairly and will always be able to give you an estimated completion date, taking into account other requests which we will have received before yours.

The team will supply you with a reference number on all correspondence. If you need to contact us about your request, please quote the reference number to help us find the details quickly.

 

Further information

You can contact the team between 10am and 4pm, Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays):

 

Address:

Subject Access Team
Medical Records
Ashford Hospital
London Road
Ashford
TW15 3AA

Tel: 01784 884773

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 

Please do not attend in person unless you have made a prior appointment to collect your records, as it is otherwise unlikely that the team will be able to meet you.

Unencrypted internet email is not secure, and Trust policy normally prohibits staff from disclosing personal data by email. If you send us a patient’s personal data by such means (for example by emailing a completed application form to us), we will infer your authority for us to do likewise in correspondence with you.

If you would like to find out more about how the Trust deals with subject access requests, please contact either the Subject Access Team or PALS. For more general information about your subject access rights, you may find the Information Commissioner’s Office guidance useful.