Our resident pharmacist explains who has access to your health history and how to view your own medical records.
By Rita Ghelani
If you’ve ever moved towns or GP surgeries, you’ll know that doctors are able to access information about your medical history in order to help them give you the best treatment.
But have you ever wondered exactly what information your GP holds about you and if you’re able to view them yourself?
Our resident pharmacist Rita Ghelani explains everything you need to know about your medical records:
What are medical records?
Although some NHS patients may have all their healthcare information at their fingertips, others may be grateful to know that their healthcare information is centrally recorded and can be accessed by different healthcare professionals looking after them.
This is especially important for anyone on lots of different medication, with long-term or chronic conditions and those for whom English is not their first language.
If you’re registered with a GP in England details of your health history is kept on an electronic file.
If you are registered with a GP practice in England details about your health history is kept on electronic file. This is called a Summary Care Record (SCR). The only people who currently have access will be those at your NHS GP practice.
Having said that, the NHS is changing how health records are stored and shared in England, by opening up access to your records to other medical professionals, such as pharmacists. This is being carried out to offer better patient NHS care and support wherever you need it, anywhere in England.
What do your medical records contain?
The SCR holds your name, address, date of birth and unique NHS number which is used to identify you. On top of this, it includes:
🔹 All known allergies.
🔹 Any side-effects that you may have experienced from medicines that you have taken in the past.
🔹 Current repeat medications – such as the medicines for high blood pressure, high cholesterol or asthma inhalers.
🔹A list of medicines you have been prescribed in the last 6-12 months.
NHS patients can also choose to include more information in their SCR. This could be information relating to long-term conditions, immunisations given, your preferences such as information on end-of-life care or particular care needs. This additional information will only be added if you and your GP agree that it is necessary. You should discuss this with your GP.
Who can access my summary care record?
Only authorised healthcare professional staff in England who are involved in your direct care and need to view information to do their job will have access to your SCR, but care professionals will ask for your permission if they need to look at your SCR.
Only authorised healthcare professionals who are involved in your direct care have access to your records.
If they cannot ask you because you are unconscious or otherwise unable to communicate, they may decide to look at your record because doing so is in your best interest. A swipe card system is used by anyone accessing your information and is automatically recorded and centrally monitored to ensure that it is appropriate. Each practice has a privacy officer who is responsible for monitoring access. Your SCR will not be accessed by any other organisations.
How do I view my own medical records?
You are able to view your own medical records if you wish to for any reason. To see your GP records, you must register for GP online services through the practice you are registered to. Here, you will be able to view information about your medication, past test results and previous illnesses.
If you want to see you Summary Care Record, on the other hand, you can do so by making a request through your GP, and for hospital records, you can do this by contacting the hospital’s records manager.
Accessing someone else’s medical records
While medical records are completely confidential, you can view someone else’s in certain circumstances. These are:
✔️ If you have been authorised to view them, after applying through your practice with the written consent of the patient in question.
✔️ If you have the legal authority to access them on their behalf.
✔️ If you are a parent or guardian of someone under the age of 16.