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The Data Protection Act (1998) allows an individual (the data subject) to request information about themselves held by an organisation. The information requested can be held in paper or electronic records and does not need to be accessed via a filing system. Such a request is known as a data subject access request.

As a data subject you have the right:

• to be provided with information about your data and its processing
• to inspect data held about you
• to prevent processing of your personal data, if the processing could cause distress
• to have inaccurate data erased or destroyed
• to be provided with a copy of your personal data in a permanent form
• to sue for compensation from data controllers who are in breach of the Act

Subject Access to Health Records

A subject Access request will allow an individual to gain access to their personal data. Typically these records will be received in the form of photocopies for which there is generally a charge.

Health Records are documents relating to the physical and or mental health of an individual. These documents fall under the 1998 Act subject access provision. Therefore, you can access your personal health records for a charge.

The maximum fee of £10 may be charged for granting subject access to health records that fall under the Data Protection Act 1984. However, for records that are manually recorded rather than automated there is a maximum charge of £50. Therefore, records from GP's may come under this category. It should be noted that more recent medical records may be viewed (but not received permanently) for free.