Sharing Your Medical Record
Increasingly, patient medical data is shared e.g. between GP surgeries and District Nursing, in order to give clinicians access to the most up to date information when attending patients.
The systems we operate require that any sharing of medical information is consented to by patients beforehand. Patients must consent to sharing of the data held by a health provider out to other health providers and must also consent to which of the other providers can access their data.
e.g. it may be necessary to share data held in GP practices with district nurses but the local podiatry department would not need to see it to undertake their work. In this case, patients would allow the surgery to share their data, they would allow the district nurses to access it but they would not allow access by the podiatry department. In this way access to patient data is under patients' control and can be shared on a 'need to know' basis.
Emergency Care Summary
There is a Central NHS Computer System called the Emergency Care Summary (ECS). The Emergency Care Summary is meant to help emergency doctors and nurses help you when you contact them when the surgery is closed. It will contain information on your medications and allergies.
Your information will be extracted from practices such as ours and held securely on central NHS databases.
As with all systems there are pros and cons to think about. When you speak to an emergency doctor you might overlook something that is important and if they have access to your medical record it might avoid mistakes or problems, although even then, you should be asked to give your consent each time a member of NHS Staff wishes to access your record, unless you are medically unable to do so.
On the other hand, you may have strong views about sharing your personal information and wish to keep your information at the level of this practice. If you don’t want an Emergency Care Summary to be made for you, tell your GP surgery. Don’t forget that if you do have an Emergency Care Summary, you will be asked if staff can look at it every time they need to. You don’t have to agree to this.
From 31 October 2023, GP surgeries must give patients online access to their new health record entries.
What information is in my GP record?
A GP health record contains information about the care you have received from your GP surgery. It includes information on:
- Medicines your GP has prescribed
- Allergies you have
- Vaccinations you have received
- Conditions you have been diagnosed with
- Results of tests that your GP surgery has requested
- Notes from appointments
- Letters that hospitals and specialists have sent to your GP
How can I access my online GP record?
You can view their GP record by logging into your account on the NHS website or NHS app.
To view your record online, you must be registered with a GP surgery and aged 16 or over.
Will I have to pay to access my GP health record?
There is no cost to accessing your GP records through the NHS App or the NHS website, aside from using the internet.
The NHS will never charge you to download an app or use services within the app.
Will I be able to view my hospital and social care records?
No - you can only view information filed on your GP health record.
When hospitals send letters from specialists to GPs – for instance, letters about discharge or information on your referral – you can see these.
Will I be able to view older records?
The changes will only apply to records made from November 2022 onwards.
Can I remove access to my record?
If you do not want to be able to access your record, you can speak to your GP surgery who can remove online access.
Will sensitive test results be automatically uploaded to my record?
A GP will review results from a test before uploading them to your health record.
If results are sensitive or potentially upsetting, the GP should try to speak to you before uploading them onto your record.
Will people under the age of 16 be able to view their records?
Changes to record access will only apply to people over the age of 16.
If a young person is believed to have enough intelligence, competence and understanding to fully appreciate what’s involved in their treatment (being Gillick competent), they may request access to their records. Their GP will grant access.
Can I access the records for a family member or someone I care for?
Proxy access lets people access medical services for someone in their care.
If you would like proxy access to another person’s record (for example, a child or someone they care for), you must discuss this with the GP surgery.
GPs will be decide whether proxy access is in the patient’s best interests.
What can I do if there is incorrect information on my record?
You can speak to your practice to correct information on your record.
For factual changes (incorrect allergy or medication), GPs can amend your record.
If you disagree with information on your record (for example, how a mental health concern has been described), there is an option for the GP to note your disagreement.
Will it be possible to view records of a deceased person?
No - viewing a deceased person’s records is not possible. If you want to access a deceased person’s records, you must apply in writing to the record holder under the Access to Health Records Act (1990).
What actions can I take if I can’t access to my records?
There are several reasons why a GP might decide you should not have access to their records. This is usually because the practice believes there is a safeguarding risk to you or another individual if you have access.
You can contact your GP if you feel you should have access to your records.
If you disagree with your GP’s decision, you can complain through your practice’s complaints process.
What support will be given to understand technical language?
NHS England is working with GPs to help them understand these changes and be aware that patients can read information that has been put into the health record.
Where possible, GPs have been encouraged by NHS England to use terminology and language that can be understood by everyone.
What safeguarding procedures are in place to protect victims and survivors of domestic or sexual abuse?
People who have experienced, or are experiencing, domestic violence or sexual abuse are potentially at risk from changes to patient record access. A coercive partner may force an individual to show their health records when they do not want to.
Where a GP suspects domestic violence, they can hide or ‘redact’ sensitive information. Where possible, a GP will speak to you about this. If a conversation isn’t possible, they can switch off access.
When patients get treatment for sexual abuse or trauma, NHS England encourages GPs to discuss whether or not they would like this information included on their online health record. This redacted information would be visible to the GP but not to the patient.
The NHS App has security protocols, including user identification when the app is installed. Users will usually have to log in with a password and thumbprint, and advisory messages pop up before patients access their records.