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Parents requesting access to their children’s medical records: LMC Advice

A child is defined as Under 18 by the Children’s Act 1989

We are often asked if a parent can have access to their child’s medical record when there is a clearly a dispute with the other parent.

Anyone with ‘Parental Responsibility’ can apply to access a child’s record.

Who has Parental Responsibility?

  1. The Mother
  2. The Father if was married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth or subsequently.
  3. The Father if he was named on the birth certificate at registration or re-registration after 1st Dec 2003. Note this only applies in England and Wales. Different dates in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
  4. The Local Authority if the child is subject to a care or supervision order.
  5. Step parents if there is a ‘Parental Responsibility Order’ from a court.
  6. A Court appointed guardian
  7. Adoptive parents with an Adoption Order. At this point birth parents lose Parental Responsibility
  8. Testamentary Guardians. Ie named in a Will where the testator (person who wrote the will) is dead.

Parental Responsibility is NOT lost following divorce even if the child does not live with the parent and he/she makes no financial contribution

Only a Court can remove Parental Responsibility

Parental responsibility alone is not enough to obtain access to a child’s medical records the following must be considered

  1. Does the child consent to the parent having access? If the child is over 16 the Mental Capacity Act 2005 considers them to have capacity to make such a decision unless proven otherwise. Under 16 the child’s ‘competence’ to make a decision should be considered.
  2. Is it in the childs ‘best interests’ for the parent to have access to records. A clinician can refuse but may need to take advice first.
  3. Is there a likelihood of harm? In this case it is clearly not best interests

Can a Child have access to their own records?

  1. Yes. Providing they are considered competent or are over 16.
  2. And it is in their best interests

What about GDPR?

  1. All the usual rules apply including considering if the child has competence or capacity is able to give consent.


Further Advice & Guidance on access to health records can be found on the BMA Website 


Updated on Monday, 26 October 2020, 506 views

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