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How medical records are accessed by solicitors

Date published: 07/11/2019

BMA News Update w/c 1st November 2019

We recently highlighted a court case which considered a dispute about how medical records are made available to solicitors requesting them on behalf of patients. A summary of the case has been prepared by the solicitors acting for the GP practice. We have now considered the details of this case. The judge did not rule on issues related to GDPR and Subject Access Requests (SARs). The court considered the question of disclosure under Civil Procedure Rules. The judge ruled in favour of the practice and did not make an order for disclosure of the records because the practice had made the records available for collection from the practice premises.

 

It is important for practices to note, however, that this case does not alter any aspect of the law relating to GDPR. When a SAR is received from a solicitor acting for a patient practices should follow the patient’s wishes and make available medical records to the solicitor if this is what the patient has authorised, unless the practice has particular concerns about the patient’s authorisation.

 

The ICO has recently made a statement about the case which states that: ‘A person should not have to take action to receive the information, such as by collecting it from the controller’s premises, unless they agree to do so’. A group of GPs have since written to the ICO expressing concern about this and we will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as necessary. Here is the BMA’s guidance on access to health records and SAR FAQs , which also reflects advice from the ICO on this subject.