Subject Access Requests



What is the right of access?

The right of access, commonly referred to as subject access, gives individuals the right to obtain a copy of their personal data as well as other supplementary information. It helps individuals to understand how and why we are using their data, and check we are doing it lawfully. Our privacy notice provides further information about this.


What is an individual entitled to?

Individuals have the right to obtain the following from us:

  • Confirmation we are processing their personal data;
  • A copy of their personal data; and
  • Other supplementary information – this largely corresponds to the information that you should provide in a privacy notice detailed above.


Personal data of the individual

An individual is only entitled to their own personal data, and not to information relating to other people (unless the information is also about them or they are acting on behalf of someone).

How do I make a request for my records (SAR)?

You can make a request in several ways to enable access to all:

In Person -Simply come to the practice in person with ID and ask for a Subject Access Request (SAR) form.

Over the Phone – Call us and we can arrange for a form to be emailed or posted to you.

Digitally – You can also make a request using our online enquiry form.

For us to progress your request we will need to have evidence that you are who you say you are! Your medical information is exceptionally personal and sensitive and we have a duty of care to protect it for you.

You will be asked to provide 2 x forms of ID – one must be photographic e.g. passport / driving licence /work ID card.

If we know you we will vouch for you without ID.

Then once you have been identified formally, completed the form and advised us what information you need, we do the following:

  • Make copies of the part(s) of your record you have requested.
  • Upload them to our software that automatically redacts identifiable 3rd party information and some sensitive data.
  • A trained Patient Co-ordinator reviews the record for any missed redactions including any reference to 3rd parties not involved in your care.
  • The record is passed to the GP to check what has been redacted and make any further redactions where necessary – a redaction is only made when it relates to a 3rd party not involved in your care or where it has been assessed the information being shared would cause harm or distress to you.
  • The copy of your record is then ready for you and we will contact you to let you know. This may be digitally or by phone/letter.
  • We will do this within one calendar month of having received the completed SAR and having identified you – unless there is an issue which we will notify you about in advance. The calendar month commences once we have identified you as the person making the request.
  • Once you have taken receipt of your copy record, the practice accepts no responsibility or liability for it or how a patient chooses to use the information contained within it. The patient is responsible for secure storage or onward carriage of the information provided in an intact form where that is necessary.
  • The ICO has advised us that as our patients live within a close distance to the practice it is reasonable for the patient to collect the record when a paper copy has been insisted upon by a patient or their representative. We would be happy to post the record where the requestor/3rd party provides payment in advance for the cost of signed for delivery. Where a patient is housebound and within our catchment area, we may also deliver the record and request signed receipt.

Consent to email your completed request 

We are able to complete your request via secure email. This is also the fastest way to make a request for access to medical records.

Please note: by submitting your SAR request online, you are consenting to receive any communication/records via secure email. For guidance on how to access these emails, please click here.

Can someone else make the request on my behalf?

You may ask someone to make the request on your behalf e.g. friend, solicitor, relative.

In these instances we still have a duty of care to ensure that we identify you as the subject and confirm your consent –  we need to ensure that we provide you with what you actually want.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) states:

“If you think an individual may not understand what information would be disclosed to a third party who has made a subject access request on their behalf, you may send the response directly to the individual rather than to the third party. The individual may then choose to share the information with the third party after having had a chance to review it.”

Due to the complex, sensitive nature of medical records, we check that you have provided signed consent for the sharing of your personal data. We attempt to notify you of requests, however, it is important that you are aware that your signed consent is sufficient for the practice to process the SAR and make the disclosure. It is reasonable to expect patients or their representatives to have fully understood what they have consented to share when the patient is working with a 3rd party requestor on their behalf. You may also ask to view what is being shared before it has been sent. Please ensure that this is documented on any signed consent request. We cannot action this if we have not been advised in advance.

Birchwood Medical Practice accepts no liability for the record(s) once the patient has confirmed receipt and whether they remain intact for onward carriage to the 3rd party who may need to process information held within them.

What happens if I need another copy of my records?

The first copy of your records is provided for free. Any further requests for the same information whether for yourself or a third party would be deemed manifestly excessive and would incur a fee.

The fee is dependent on the amount of work required and relates to the size of the record and also any complexity involved in its review for redaction prior to final copy readiness.

Recent examples have been in the range of £20 to £183 of work undertaken for copy records.

So, please don’t lose your free copy!