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Medical records access and copying fees

Fees for copies of health records of living patients
Health records held on computer                          £10.00
Health records held in part on computer and in part manually Up to a maximum of £50.00
Health records held manually Up to a maximum of £50.00
Allowance Fee
Fees to allow patients access to their own health records where no copy is required  
Health records held totally on computer                Up to a maximum of £10.00
Health records held in part on computer and in part manually
Up to a maximum of £10.00
Health records held manually
Up to a maximum of £10 unless the records have been added in the last 40 days in which case the viewing should be free.


General practice medical record requests from the police

There is clear guidance regarding the obligations that GPs have with respect to copying and/or release of the GP record. These circumstances are as follows.

  • If the police do not have a court order or warrant they may request voluntary disclosure of a patient’s health records under section 29 of the Data Protection Act 1998.
  • However, while health professionals have the power to disclose the records to the police where section 29 applies, there is no obligation to do so.
  • In such cases health professionals remain bound by the long-established common law duty of confidentiality and may only disclose information where the patient has given consent, or there is an overriding public interest. They may also be required to defend their decision to disclose before the GMC which is a statutory tribunal.
  • Disclosures in the public interest based on common law are made where disclosure is essential to prevent a serious threat to public health, national security, the life of the individual or a third party, or to prevent or detect serious crime. This includes crimes such as murder, manslaughter, rape, treason, kidnapping and abuse of children or other vulnerable people. Serious harm to the security of the state or to public order and serious fraud will also fall into this category.

GP practices are entitled to a fee for producing the notes. There is no set fee for producing these notes. Therefore it is the responsibility of individual practices to set their own fee for this work.

In order for to proceed with a police request, the police will need to provide each of the following.

  1. Provide written patient consent to release of their records OR provide written confirmation as to the nature of the serious crime allegedly committed by the patient and an explanation as to why the patient’s records, or other information requested, are considered necessary for the specific purpose you are pursuing. The data holder will require one of these in order to fulfil your responsibilities as the Caldicott Guardian.
  2. Confirmation in writing that the fee will be paid within 28 days of the police receiving the record. This fee is due to the disproportionate effort placed on an already overburdened GP practice to provide these notes which recognises the need to support the police in their investigation of a crime, where appropriate to do so.
  3. Written confirmation from a senior police officer – ranked Inspector or above – that he or she considers that the crime being investigated is a serious crime in line with the examples provided above.

Once you are in receipt of each of these at the practice, and have checked the appropriateness of release of the records, you should respond to the police authority as soon as possible.

Alternatively, should it be appropriate for the police to view the record (based on the answer to requirement 1 above), then there is the option for them to view the record in the practice in the presence of a practice staff member. In this situation there is no fee chargeable.

GPs should, in all cases where there is no patient consent, consider whether the benefits to an individual or to society of disclosing the records outweigh both the public and the patient’s interest in keeping the information confidential before agreeing to disclose the records.

If you have any further queries on this fee, or would like a copy of a pro forma to send to a police authority, please contact [email protected].


Solicitor requests for access to patient records

The BMA and Law Society have produced a joint consent form for use in England and Wales and Scotland.

Download the solicitor consent form

When an individual makes a legal claim, solicitors or agents often need to see the individual's health records in order to assess which parts are relevant to the case. In addition, if the legal claim goes ahead, the person who the claim is against and relevant insurance companies may ask for copies of the health records.

By signing the consent form, the patient gives the doctor permission to give copies of their full GP record, and or hospital records relating to the incident, to their solicitor or agent.

Health records are released under the Data Protection Act 1998 and the doctor must release copies of the records unless any of the exemptions set out in The Data Protection (Subject Access Modification) (Health) Order 2000 apply.

The doctor may charge the usual fees authorised under the Act for providing the records.

Please note that doctors who receive requests with a different consent form are still obliged to comply, provided the consent is valid. Doctors can, however, ask solicitors to use the joint BMA and Law Society consent form in future, but they cannot insist upon it.


Solicitors photocopying in a GP surgery

Some practices invite solicitors to come into the surgery to make the copies. This is allowed where it is considered convenient for both parties and no ethical or legal difficulties arise, provided that the other conditions in the Data Protection Act are met.

In particular, doctors allowing solicitors to make copies of records must ensure that the records they are copying do not reveal any information that is exempt from the access provisions of the legislation.


Deceased patient records

There are only a small number of people who are able to request access to deceased patients' records.

Read our Confidentiality and disclosure of health information toolkit


Please note what you can and cannot charge

  • For access to the information where records were made more than 40 days before the date of the application for access, a maximum of £10 can be charged.
  • For providing access to information if the records have been amended or added to in the last 40 days, no fee may be charged.
  • For supplying copy, a fee not exceeding the cost of making the copy and postal costs may be charged.
  • Charges should be proportionate and justifiable and should reflect the actual costs incurred. They should not result in a profit for the data controller.
  • Health professionals may charge a professional fee to cover the costs of giving access to the records of deceased patients that is not covered by legislation.
  • There is no obligation to comply with a request for access unless the required fee has been paid.


Requests for hard copies of information

If an applicant wishes to obtain a copy of the record, they may be charged a fee. There is no limit on this charge, but it should not result in a profit for the record holder. This fee is over and above the £10 for the initial access.

Where health information is to be disclosed for the deceased in the absence of a statutory basis, any fees charged should be reasonable and proportionate to cover the cost of satisfying a request. It is recommended NHS organisations follow the above fees structure.