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To Sam

Do I have a right to read my hospital notes?

I'm nearly 13 and I've got Cerebral Palsy and various other medical conditions so my medical file is quite large, I was wondering whether I've got a right to read them?
Ask Sam


Hi there,

Thanks for your question. Reading your medical notes can really help you understand your medical conditions and help you make decisions about your own healthcare and treatment.

Under the Data Protection Act 1998, you have a legal right to read your own medical notes, so long as your doctor believes that you are able to understand and make decisions about your own health.

In the UK, once you are 12 years old you’re old enough to access your medical records. You won’t be allowed to read anything in your records that’s about another person (unless they give permission) or that might cause you serious harm. You also have the right to ask that other people (including your parents or carers) are not allowed to see your health records, if you want.

If you decide that you want to read your medical notes then you can ask at your next hospital appointment. You could also phone to arrange a time to go and see them. You don’t need to give a reason and your doctor should be able to show them to you. If you want a copy of your medical records to keep, then you need to ask in writing or by email. Your doctor or another member of staff at the hospital will be able to tell you who to contact. You may have to pay a fee of up to £10 and you should get a response in 40 days or less.

Your medical records should be written in a way that you can understand, but there might be some things that need to be explained by a doctor or nurse. You can ask for help if there is anything that doesn’t make sense, such as abbreviations or medical terms.

Here's a quick summary on getting your medical records:

  • You have the right to access your medical notes if you are over 12 and your doctor believes you are able to understand the records.
  • You have the right to ask that other people can't see your hospital notes.
  • If you would like a copy of your record to keep, you need to email or write to the hospital to ask for your medical record.
  • If you just want to have a look at your record, you can phone the hospital and make an appointment.

If you would like to talk more about this, you can contact a ChildLine counsellor by calling free on 0800 1111 or through 1-2-1 chat. You can also read more about visiting your doctor.

Take care,

Need help straight away?

You can talk privately to a counsellor online or call 0800 1111 for free.

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