Why do I have to ask for my healthcare records?
Because if you don’t, then you will never know what went wrong with your medical treatment. As the NHS complaints department will only investigate areas of your treatment that went well unless you are really specific about the terms of the investigation. At this point, you may be thinking to yourself that the NHS complaints process really can’t be as bad as this blog is making them out to be. And you’re absolutely right. They are not. They are in fact, much, much worse. So that is why this blog is typing at you in such a stern manner. Take the time before submitting your complaint to carry out your own investigation. This should save you time, your sanity and you may even get your questions answered. If that happens, then make the most of your lucky spell and buy a lottery ticket.
Also as the culture within the NHS complaints departments is to view you as someone who requires supervision to operate a crayon and colouring book, unless you investigate your complaint, you may come across as confused. Which is what the staff who work in NHS complaints already believe.
I’m not claiming this will make the process easier for you but at least you will have all the facts so you won’t have to keep on continuously making complaints to find out what went wrong.
What is a Subject Access Request (SAR)?
A SAR legally allows anybody in the UK to find out what personal data is held about them by an organisation. This includes your healthcare records. The SAR can only be used by you to obtain your personal information only. If you information request falls outside of the information the organisation holds on you, try submitting a Freedom of information (FOI) request instead. Please click here to read more about FOI and the FOI letter template. Find Out Information with FOI
How to request a Subject Access Request (SAR)
Once you have copied and personalised the SAR template ( please click on the link to open the SAR template formSAR template 1
send this document to the CEO of the NHS department/trust. This blogger normally sends the SAR via email. After performing a google search for CEO and email address of X department. If you are sending a letter by snail mail, I would strongly advice you to pay the extra money and send it ‘signed for delivery’.
The SAR is free of charge
Before the introduction of the GDPR in May 2017, the NHS could charge you up to £50 to send you, your healthcare records. The GDPR has outlawed this processing fee. So any requests for a processing fee should be met with suspicion.
What to include in the SAR template
I think you have to play them at their own game and be really specific when making the subject access request ie. include all emails, hand written and typed correspondence from all the nursing, medical, laboratory, medical imaging ( X-rays, MRI etc) and medical imaging reports, physio and dietary records relating to my inpatient stay and outpatient treatment from x date until the present.
As the information may paint the NHS Organisation in a negative light and support your concerns that your condition was detectable, treatable and therefore avoidable.
Do they have to give me all of the information they hold on me?
In short, no they don’t. There will be times when the NHS organization tries to withhold certain information from you,
By claiming that (…)” it would not be reasonable to disclose that information to you.”
If this happens to you, write or email the chief executive of the organisation and remind them that (….) Recital 63 of the GDPR states: “a data subject should have the right of access to personal data which have been collected concerning him or her, and to exercise that right easily and at reasonable intervals, in order to be aware of, and verify, the lawfulness of the processing”.
How long will it take to get my healthcare records?
The NHS Organisation normally has 1 calendar month from the day of acknowledging the request to respond with the information you have requested. Sometimes they will ask for clarification and the one calendar month will only start from the day they have received your explanation. However if the SAR requests is ‘complex or numerous’, the response period can be extended for up to another 2 months. If this is the case, you must be contacted within one month with an explanation why the extension is necessary.
please click on the SAR template link so you can copy and paste the subject access request letter/email document. Once you have done that, don’t forget to personalise the document. – SAR template 1
What happens if they don’t respond to my SAR request?
this is a legal requirement and a substantial fine if the NHS organisation fails to send your medical records without charge. So if this does happen to you, then please contact the information regulatory body. Click on the Information Comissioners Office (ICO) link to open the ICO contact us webpage. Or you may wish to email them instead. Their email address is. firstname.lastname@example.org
I have my healthcare records, what now?
once you have received your medical records, you will need to sort and analyse the information. You may wish to click on this link to read more about reviewing healthcare records and a formatted document to help you make sense of the information. Investigate a la CSI – categorise, sort, insert
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