The NHS wants to give people better ways to see their personal health information online. We know that people want to be able to access their health records. It can help you see test results faster. It also lets you read and review notes from your appointments in your own time.
We’re now letting you see all the information within your health record. If you are over 16 and have an online account, such as through the NHS App, NHS website, or other GP online services and apps, you will now automatically be able to see all future information entered on your medical record. Some people can already access this feature, this won’t change for you.
This means that you will be able to see records from your appointments, as well as test results and any letters that are saved on your records. This only applies to records from your doctor (GP), not from hospitals or other specialists, although you will be able to see any letters that hospitals or specialists send to your doctor (GP). You will only be able to see information from 4th October 2023. For most people, access will be automatic, and you won’t need to do anything.
Your GP medical record contains consultation notes based on conversations between you, your GP and their team: medicines prescribed to you; all test results including hospital investigations; allergies; vaccines; and your medical conditions along with documents that may have been sent from local hospitals, clinics or other agencies, eg the police. There is likely to be sensitive and personal information within your medical record.
It’s important to remember that these documents may, at times, contain information that could be upsetting, especially if they contain news of a serious condition. It can also be a cause for worry seeing results online when it isn’t clear what the results might mean, and no one is available to ask, as can be the case during the evening or at weekends, for example.
Sometimes people with a mental health condition might prefer not to see documents that remind them of difficult times in their life. Letters from mental health teams sometimes go into detail about past events, and great care would be needed in deciding whether you would want to see these letters. It is possible for individual items to be hidden at your request and your GP would be happy to talk about any concerns you may have.
Great care is also needed in case private details might cause harm at home, should people in a difficult or pressured relationship be forced to show their medical record to an abusive partner. Anyone in such a position should make this clear to us at the practice, so we can take steps to keep you safe. This might mean removing access through the NHS app for the time being, or through a careful process where we hide sensitive things. We would talk this through with you.
We are supportive of providing you with access to your record, but we wish to do this safely and make you aware that this is happening so that you can opt out, if you so wish. You may wish to speak with us first to understand what it is that you will see, and the risks which may be involved in having such confidential data either on your smartphone with the NHS app installed or online if other people might have access to that information through your devices. If you are in a difficult or pressured relationship for example, you may prefer your records to remain accessible only to those treating you, with them not appearing on your smartphone or online. Government has been clear that if a patient does not wish to have access, then we do not have to provide it. This is one reason why we are giving you the option to opt out, or have it switched off for the time being.
Your doctor (GP) may talk to you to discuss test results before you are able to see some of your information on the app. Your doctor (GP) may also talk to you before you are given full record access to make sure that having access is of benefit to you. If you are concerned that seeing your records is not right for you, you should speak to your practice. You have the option to Opt out totally or reduce the information you wish to see.
These changes only apply to people with online accounts. If you do not want an online account, you can still access your GP health record by requesting this information via our reception team. The changes also only apply to personal information about you. If you are a carer and would like to see information about someone you care for, speak to reception staff (authority will be required).
The NHS App, website and other online services are all very secure. You’ll need to make sure you protect your login details. Do not share your password with anyone as they will then have access to your personal information.
If you do not want to see your health record, or if you would like more information about these changes, please speak to your GP or reception staff.
You can also read more by going to www.nhs.uk/gp-record.