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Single point of access needed for medical data

Author: Sarah Houston

A recent report commissioned by NHS England has found that data across the NHS is fragmented and in need of a single point of access.

The Open data in the health sector report outlines what has been learnt from users of data inside and outside of the health sector.

As a patient, you have a legal right to apply for access to your health information under the Data Protection Act 1998. This includes your NHS or private health records held by your GP, optician or dentist, or by a hospital.

Unfortunately, this process is not usually as simple as it may appear.

Particular difficulties arise when a patient is unsure which hospital that they attended or where their care has been divided among several hospitals, or where responsibility for the hospital has recently changed. Having drafted the application to apply for records, it can be difficult to know who to send the application to.

Likewise, a change of GP surgery can mean that a patient’s paper medical records are divided between the previous GP surgery and the new one. In this scenario, there may be a delay in your new GP receiving your medical records before they see you in their surgery for the first time.

The process of applying for dental records is more complicated still. When requesting dental records, it is usually necessary to apply to all of the dental surgeries that you have ever attended, if memory allows.

It is not an easy system with many different bodies holding information about us but without a single place where a health professional can see our full medical history.

The report seeks to address these issues and advocates two solutions:

  1. Work towards a single online point of access for data in the health sector.
  2. Establish a data support team covering the entire health system, not limited to individual institutions.

Should this be accomplished, a patient would be able to access their records with ease and every health professional that we see would have access to our full medical picture.

If you are concerned about any aspect of your medical or dental treatment, please contact us to see if we can assist you in obtaining the information that you require. Call 01302 320621 or email