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Access to Health Records

Who has access to my health record?

YOU DO

The Data Protection Act 1998 allows patients or their duly authorised representative to request access to their health records either in paper or electronic format.  Before releasing any information, the health records must be checked for any third party information which is omitted and for any information that may cause you serious harm or distress.  Access to deceased patient's records is explained below.  The Data Protection Act 1998 only permits access to living individual's records.

OUR STAFF AND OTHER HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS

Only staff who are involved regarding your care or treatment are allowed access to your health record either on paper or via electronic meands.  All staff working in the NHS have a legal duty to protect the confidentiality of the information that we hold about you.  We take breaches of confidentiality very seriously and if any member of staff is discovered obtaining unauthorised access to a health record, this may end up in disciplinary action.

How can I access my health records?

If you would like to see your health records or would like copies, you will need to send a written request or complete an application form which are available by contacting the Access to Health Records Department at the details below:

Access to Health Records Department
Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust
Royal Albert Edward Infirmary
Knowsley House
Wigan Lane
Wigan
Greater Manchester
WN1 2NN

Tel:  01942 822541/ 01257 256462 

When completing your form or written request, please tell us clearly who you are with proof of identity (for example, photocopy of passport), proof of address (for example, copy of utility bill) and your contact details.

THIRD PARTY ACCESS REQUESTS FROM SOLICITORS OR INSURANCE COMPANIES

Third party applications from solicitors or insurance companies in relation to third party personal injury claims require written consent from the patient before records can be disclosed.  These requests are again processed by the Access to Health Records Department. 

For more information, please contact:

Access to Health Records Department
Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust
Royal Albert Edward Infirmary
Knowsley House
Wigan Lane
Wigan
Greater Manchester
WN1 2NN

Tel:  01942 822541/ 01257 256462

Legal access requests for records in potential clinical negligence claims and employers / occupational liability claims are processed by the Trust's Legal Department, who are located at the Royal Albert Edward Infirmary site.

For more information, please contact:

Legal Services
Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust
Royal Albert Edward Infirmary
Trust Headquarters
Wigan Lane
Wigan
Greater Manchester
WN1 2NN

When can I not have access to my health records?

A healthcare professional may withold access to information if, in their opinion, the release of the information might cause serious harm or if it identifies third parties.

All applicants have a right to an explanation of any technical and medical language or terminology that they do not understand.

Holders of health records such as the Trust are obliged by law to be satisfied than an applicant is entitled to access the health record requested.  This involves verification of identity and in some circumstances further enquiries and documentation may be required.  More information regarding this is available by contacting the Access to Health Records Department (01942 822967).

Is there a fee to have copies of records?

The maximum fee that can be charged for providing copies of health records is £10 for computer records and £50 for copies of manual records or a mixture of manual and computer records.

If the fee is not received by the Trust, then access to the record is denied.  This also applies for access to deceased persons records.

Access to Medical Record Reports

The Access to Medical Reports Act 1988 governs access to medical reports made by a patient’s normal clinician for insurance or employment purposes.

For more information regarding this procedure, please click here.

Access to a deceased person's health records

Health records relating to deceased people do not carry a common law duty of confidentiality. However, it is Department of Health and General Medical Council policy that records relating to deceased people should be treated with the same level of confidentiality as those relating to living people. Access to the health records of a deceased person is governed by the Access to Health Records Act 1990. Under this legislation when a patient has died, their personal representative or executor or administrator or anyone having a claim resulting from the death (this could be a relative or another person), has the right to apply for access to the deceased’s health records.

How can a person apply for access to a deceased persons’ health records?

A request for access should be made in writing to the Access to Health Records Department ensuring that it contains sufficient information to enable the correct records to be identified or alternatively you can contact the Access to Health Records Manager for an application form to sent out to you for completion. The request should also give details of the applicant’s right to access the records.

Can a person have unlimited access to the health records of the deceased person?

If the deceased person had indicated that they did not wish information to be disclosed, or the record contains information that the deceased person expected to remain confidential then it must remain so. In addition the record holder has the right to deny or restrict access if it felt that disclosure would cause serious harm to the physical or mental health of any other person, or would identify a third person.

Complaints

Complaints about any aspect of an application to obtain access to health records should first be made to the Information Governance Department.  If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of the investigation, you can write to the:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Tel:  01625 545700
Website: www.ico.gov.uk

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