1. Introduction
  2. How to get your GP records
  3. Using the NHS App to access records
  4. A guide to formally requesting medical records
  5. Requesting the records of someone who has died
  6. Seeing a child’s medical records
  7. Requesting the records of a vulnerable adult
  8. More information on medical records
  9. Complaints
  10. Useful links
  11. Share your feedback about the information on this page
  12. Contact us


This information explains how to see your medical records in England.

What is in my medical records?

Your records include any information about your physical or mental health recorded by a healthcare professional. This includes records made by hospital staff, GPs, dentists, and opticians. It can also include health records kept by your employer.

Here are examples of the type of information which could be included:

  • Laboratory reports
  • Recordings of telephone calls
  • X-rays
  • Letters
  • Prescription charts
  • Clinical notes.

Why would I access my records?

Some of the most common reasons for accessing medical records include: understanding a condition, coming to terms with a medical event or preparing to make a complaint.

Can I view my medical records?

Yes. You have a legal right to see your own records. You do not have to explain why you want to see them.

Can my request be refused?

Your request could be refused if:

  • A health professional thinks seeing the records would be seriously harmful to your physical or mental health
  • The records also relate to someone else.

Can I nominate someone else to see my records?

Yes. You can nominate someone else, for example a solicitor, to view your records. You must provide written consent.

Do I have to pay?

No. Under General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) accessing your medical records is free.

How to get your GP records

You can view your GP record information online. To do this register for online services.

You can view your GP health record using the NHS App or by logging into your account on the NHS website or via other patient online services provided by your GP surgery. Find out more about the NHS App, 

In most cases, once registered for online services, you will automatically be able to see new information as it is added to your health record. If you need to see older information you can request this from your GP surgery.

If you don’t have access to the information you need then you should discuss this with your surgery.

If you do not wish to use the online service, see section 4 for advice on formally requesting your medical records.

What information does my GP record include?

Your GP record includes information on medicines, vaccines, and test results. It will also include communications between your GP and other services. For example, referral letters and hospital discharge summaries.

How do I register for online services?

  1. You can register for online services by creating an NHS account. You can do this online at
  2. Alternatively, you can tell your GP surgery you want to sign up for online services. You can do this by asking them in person, over the phone or by visiting the surgery website.
  3. If you go to the surgery in person, take some form of photo identification and proof of address. 
  4. Fill in the short registration form you are given or sent.
  5. Login using the registration details and instructions your GP surgery gives you.

How else can I view my GP records?

You can also view your GP records using the NHS App. See next section for more information.

Using the NHS App to access records

Using the NHS App to access records

The free NHS App enables you to book appointments, order repeat prescriptions and view your GP medical records.

Who can use the NHS App?

The NHS App is for people aged 13 and over who are registered with a connected GP surgery. You can use some of the features without your GP surgery being connected. All GP practices in England and the Isle of Man are connected to the NHS App.

How does it work?

With the NHS App you can:

  • Check your symptoms
  • Book appointments
  • Order repeat prescriptions 
  • View your GP medical record
  • Register to be an organ donor 
  • Choose how you data is used.

How do I access it?

The NHS App is free to download from the App Store and Google Play.

Find out more about the NHS App

The Welsh NHS App

The NHS in Wales has introduced its on NHS App providing access to medical records and other services. For more information on the app visit 

A guide to formally requesting medical records

You can formally request your medical records in writing. You may wish to do this if:

  • The information you need is not covered by your GP record
  • You want hard - paper - copies of records
  • You do not have online access
  • You do not want to use online services.

Here is a step-by-step guide to formally requesting your medical records:

Step 1

Find out where your records are held. Your GP should be able to tell you this.

Step 2

Write a letter or email making a formal request for copies of your records. Include information on exactly what you want to see. This template letter asking for a copy of your records may be helpful.

Step 3

Reply as soon as you can if you are asked for more information. Keep copies of any letters you send and receive.

Step 4

When you go to view your records, take some form of identification such as a passport or driving licence. Do not send original documents in the post.

What if I do not hear back?

Most healthcare providers aim to respond to requests within three weeks. If you do not hear back within this time write again or call to request an update.

If you have not heard anything after 40 days you can make a formal complaint. See section 9 for more information on how to do this.

Additional support

A sample request letter is included at the back of this leaflet.

If you need extra help with any of the above stages you can call the Patients Association’s free helpline: 0800 345 7115.

Requesting the records of someone who has died

Can I ask to see the records of someone who has died?

Yes, but only under certain circumstances. You can request the records if:

  • You are the executor or administrator of someone’s estate
  • You have a claim resulting from the death.

How do I apply for access to the records?

When someone who lives in England dies their GP records are passed to Primary Care Support England (PCSE).

The person’s last registered GP will be able to tell you how to access these. PCSE will only administer requests for deceased individuals whose last registered GP Practice is now closed Access to Medical Records and Patient Details - Primary Care Support England.

For hospital records, contact the records manager at the hospital the person attended. 

Many hospitals have forms available online that you will be expected to complete to be given the records. The charity Action Against Medical Accidents has a template letter you can use.

Do I have to pay?

Fees may apply for accessing hospital records when someone has died.

How long after someone has died can I still request their records?

GP records are generally kept for 10 years after someone has died before they are destroyed.

Hospital records are generally kept for eight years.

Seeing a child’s medical records

Can I see my child’s medical records?

You can ask to see the records of a child under 16 if you have ‘parental responsibility’.

What does parental responsibility mean?

Parental responsibility means you are legally responsible for the wellbeing of the child. A more detailed explanation is available via

Will my request automatically be granted?

No. The best interests of the child will always be considered. If a healthcare provider is confident a child can understand their rights then they will send the information to them rather than the parent.

Can I request the medical records of children over 16?

Not without their written consent.

I’m a foster carer, can I see the records of my foster child?

You should check with the local authority or social worker to make sure you have the legal right first.

Requesting the records of a vulnerable adult

Vulnerable adults have the same right to confidentiality as anyone else. You may be able to see their records if a healthcare professional believes it is in the patient’s best interests.

What does ‘vulnerable adult’ mean?

A vulnerable adult is someone who may be unable to take care of themselves or protect themselves from significant harm or exploitation. Being a vulnerable adult does not automatically mean someone is incapable of making decisions for themselves.

How can I request the records of a vulnerable adult?

You should start by asking them. If they say yes, you will need their written consent before contacting their GP or healthcare provider.

Will I automatically get to see the records?

No. Healthcare professionals have to follow strict rules to protect the patient’s privacy and wellbeing. This might mean you will not be allowed to see the records. It could also mean you will only be allowed to see what the doctor thinks you need to know.

What if the person is not capable of granting permission?

If a person does not have mental capacity to manage their own affairs you have the right to request their records without their permission if either of the following applies:

  • You have a lasting power of attorney with authority to manage their properties and affairs
  • You have been appointed to make such decisions by the Court of Protection.

More information on medical records

Will I understand the records?

If you find the information in your records difficult to understand your healthcare provider should explain them. They should tell you what medical words and jargon mean.

Can anybody else see my records?

No. Your medical records are confidential. Nobody else is allowed to see them unless they:

  • Are a relevant healthcare professional
  • Have your written permission
  • Have legal rights to deal with your affairs.

What if I live abroad?

If you have moved abroad permanently your GP records will have been sent to your NHS Local Area Team. Your last GP in the UK will be able to tell you how to contact them. GP records will be stored for 10 years. Hospital records will be stored for eight years. You cannot take originals abroad but you can request copies.

What if I think the information in my records is wrong?

You can contact your GP or health professional and they will help you update it.


When can I complain?

You can complain if:

  • You disagree with a decision not to let you see medical records
  • You are unhappy about the process
  • You do not receive the records within 40 days
  • You feel your information is being used incorrectly.

Your first step is to complain to the provider. If you are still not satisfied, you can make a complaint to the Information Commissioner. Contact details for the Information Commissioner are at the bottom of this page.

How do I complain to the Information Commissioner?

To make a complaint through the Information Commissioner you should:

  • Give your details
  • Say what you think the healthcare provider has done wrong
  • Send any relevant letters or emails
  • Contact the commissioner as soon as possible.

The Information Commissioner does not normally investigate complaints after more than a year. Complaints must be in relation to a living person.

Information Commissioner contact details

To make a complaint online visit


Wycliffe House

Water Lane




0303 123 1113
[email protected]



Second Floor

Churchill House

Churchill Way


CF10 2HH

0330 414 6421

[email protected]

Useful links


  • The charity for patient safety and justice.


  • Information on GP online service
  • Find your local PALS team
  • Find out more about NHS Choices
  • Download NHS App.

NHS Scotland –

NHS Wales – and 

NIDirect –

POhWER Advocacy Services –

  • Information, advice and advocacy services across England. –

  • Information on parental responsibilities.


Source material for the information contained in this leaflet is available on request.

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If you still need help or information, our team might be able to help - details of how to contact them below.

Find out more about us and the work we do.

Contact the Patients Association helpline

The Patients Association offers a free national helpline providing specialist information and advice to help patients make sense of their health and social care.  

Patients can talk directly to a member of our helpline team in strict confidence about any concerns, questions or general experiences they have regarding the NHS and care systems.  

The helpline is open from 9.30 am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, and calls outside these times are returned as soon as possible during opening hours. 

If you would like to contact the helpline, please call free on 0800 345 7115, or visit the Patients Association helpline page on our website for more information. 

This page was updated on 27th February 2024 and will be reviewed in February 2027.