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?
- The Mother
- The Father if was married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth or subsequently.
- 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.
- The Local Authority if the child is subject to a care or supervision order.
- Step parents if there is a ‘Parental Responsibility Order’ from a court.
- A Court appointed guardian
- Adoptive parents with an Adoption Order. At this point birth parents lose Parental Responsibility
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Is there a likelihood of harm? In this case it is clearly not best interests
Can a Child have access to their own records?
- Yes. Providing they are considered competent or are over 16.
- And it is in their best interests
What about GDPR?
- 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