Maternity care medical records: Getting access
How to access maternity records and notes
Under the Data Protection Act, as a patient you are entitled access to view your maternity medical care records or notes for free if:
- The records have been updated in the previous 40 days.
- They are in the form of paper records such as letters, X-rays or films.
- You don’t require a copy.
If the records have not been updated in the last 40 days and you don’t require a copy, the maximum charge is £10. This charge applies whether the records are stored:
- on computer,
- partly on computer and partly in another form, for example, paper records such as letters or hand-written clinical notes, or images such as X-ray film or
- entirely in another form.
If you do want a copy, the maximum £10 charge for viewing will be included in the fee for obtaining a copy. You will not be charged twice for one access request.
Your notes must be sent to you within 40 days of your asking for them. Usually they will be sent sooner. It is a good idea to keep a dated copy of your request letter, so that you can prove when you asked for your notes if there is a disagreement about this later. The 40-day stopclock starts when the record holder receives the fee (if appropriate) and enough written information to help locate the records you seek.
How much will it cost to get access to a copy of my medical health records?
If you want a copy of the health records, the fee will depend on how the records are stored:
- on computer: maximum £10
- partly on computer and partly in another form: maximum £50 or
- entirely in another form: maximum £50
The maximum charges include postage and packaging.
What if I have trouble accessing my medical records?
Your notes are officially owned by your Primary Care Trust and it can control whether copies are made. If you have any difficulties getting a copy of your notes contact the Chief Executive at the organisation concerned and explain the problem. If you still have difficulty you can write to:
Information Commissioner's Office head office
Wycliffe House, Water Lane
Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF
Tel: 0303 123 1113 (or 01625 545745 if you would prefer not to call an ‘03’ number, or +44 1625 545745 if calling from overseas)
Fax: 01625 524510
The Information Commissioner's Office - Scotland
45 Melville Street,
Edinburgh EH3 7HL
Tel: 0131 244 9001
Information Commissioner's Office – Wales
2nd Floor, Churchill House
Cardiff CF10 2HH
Tel: 029 2067 8400
Fax: 029 2067 8399
Northern Ireland office:
Information Commissioner's Office – Northern Ireland
51 Adelaide Street,
Belfast BT2 8FE
Tel: 028 9026 9380
Fax: 028 9026 9388
Why would I want to see my maternity medical notes?
Your medical notes make interesting reading and may give you a different perspective on the birth of your baby. You may find the staff had good reasons for their actions, or that there are further issues about which you want to complain. If you find that the notes are factually incorrect you have the right to have them corrected, or a note from you inserted, putting your version of the events. Sometimes the photocopies are unclear, or times and dates are missing from the edges of the paper – if this happens, ask for a better copy.
If there are things in your notes that you do not understand, you could ask your local NCT antenatal teacher for help, or you could contact the PALS service at the hospital where your baby was born or where you were treated, or your PCT, LHB or HSS Trust, or AIMS (Action on Improvement in Maternity Services) on 0870 765 1433 or www.aims.org.uk
Summary Care Record
The NHS is phasing in electronic medical records and increasingly your medical information is being made available online. If you choose to have a Summary Care Record, you will be able to set up an account on Healthspace to view your information and manage some of your health appointments.
Your Summary Care Record (SCR) contains important information taken from the electronic medical records that the NHS holds for you.
Summary Care Records are being rolled out across England in a phased way. You may have received information from the NHS locally about the Summary Care Record, or will do so in the future. If you choose to have a Summary Care Record, you can view it from www.healthspace.nhs.uk.
For more information about the Summary Care Record, visit the NHS Care Records Service website.
Find out more about your maternity records here.