Patients with capacity
Subject to the exemptions listed in paragraph 1(6) (below) patients with capacity have a right to access their own health records via a SAR. You may also authorise a third party such as a solicitor to do so on your behalf. Competent young people may also seek access to their own records. It is not necessary for you to give reasons as to why they wish to access their records.
Children and Young People Under 18
Where a child is competent, they are entitled to make or consent to a SAR to access their record.
Children aged over 16 years are presumed to be competent. Children under 16 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland must demonstrate that they have sufficient understanding of what is proposed in order to be entitled to make or consent to an SAR. However, children who are aged 12 or over are generally expected to have the competence to give or withhold their consent to the release of information from their health records.
Where, in the view of the appropriate health professional, a child lacks competency to understand the nature of his or her SAR application, the holder of the record is entitled to refuse to comply with the SAR. Where a child is considered capable of making decisions about access to his or her medical record, the consent of the child must be sought before a parent or other third party can be given access via a SAR.
Next of kin
Despite the widespread use of the phrase ‘next of kin’, this is not defined, nor does it have formal legal status. A next of kin cannot give or withhold their consent to the sharing of information on a patient’s behalf. As next of kin they have no rights of access to medical records.
For parental rights of access, see the information above.
You can authorise a solicitor acting on your behalf to make a SAR. We must have your written consent before releasing your medical records to your solicitors acting. The consent must cover the nature and extent of the information to be disclosed under the SAR (for example, past medical history), and who might have access to it as part of the legal proceedings.
Where there is any doubt, we may contact you before disclosing the information.
The Practice may also contact you to let you know when your medical records are ready. If your solicitor is based within our area, then we may request that you collect them and deliver them to your solicitor. This is because we can no longer charge for copying and postage, so we would appreciate your help if you can do this, or alternatively ask your solicitor if they can collect your medical records.