Home > Parent's Rights > Accessing Your Child's Medical Records: Your Rights

Accessing Your Child's Medical Records: Your Rights

By: Elizabeth Mugan BA/BSc, PGDipLaw, BVC, CIArb - Updated: 18 Jun 2018 |
 
Child Children Medical Records

As a loving parent, there may be times when you wish to see your child's medical records. There are two different scenarios as to when this might occur:

  • If you are separated from the mother/father of your child and are not aware of their full medical information but would like to be; or
  • You believe that your child has been seen by a doctor without you being present and you are worried for their health and well being.
In both of these scenarios, you will want to know whether you are entitled, as a parent, to know this information.

Do Parents Have the Right to See Their Children’s Medical Records?

If your child is under the age of sixteen then you may be able to see your child's medical records. Firstly, you must have Parental Responsibility for your child. If so, you can apply to a health professional for information and they must provide it. If you wish to see a GP or other medical practitioner, they are obligated to see you and to discuss matters relating to your child's health. If you contact the medical practice and are having difficulty with access, then it is best to put your request in writing.

Do You Have Parental Responsibility?

If you are the birth mother of your child, then you naturally have Parental Responsibility. If you are a father, however, you may not have Parental Responsibility. You may have it if you were married to the mother of the child at the time of the birth or through one of the following:
  • The mother has agreed that you have Parental Responsibility;
  • You have been granted a Parental Responsibility Order by the Courts; or
  • You jointly registered the birth of your child with the mother (after 01 December 2003).

Can You Be Refused Information?

The answer is yes. If it is considered in their best interests to share information with you and if the child is considered too young to understand your application, then the health professional will usually share information. They can only pass information on to you if they have your child's consent.

If, therefore, you child is a teenager and they have asked the doctor something that they wish to be treated in confidence, then you will not be informed upon request. There are teenagers who wish to talk to their doctors about matters concerning them such as birth control, without their parents knowing.

They may also refuse information if they believe that their patient will suffer serious harm to their physical or mental well being or to any other individual. Other scenarios may include where your child's information contains further information about another individual and upon revealing your child's information, the other individual's right to confidentiality could be trespassed.

How Should You Approach a Health Professional for Information?

If you try to contact you GP or any other health professional and are unsuccessful, then the best way to make a formal request is to put it in writing. If you include a copy of your Parental Responsibility Order or marriage certificate, or your child's birth certificate with your name on it (after 01 December 2003 if you are named as the father), then this might speed up the process. If you do not include this, then you may be asked to provide it at a later date.

What Can You Do If Your Request Is Refused?

As detailed above, there may actually be a really good reason as to why your request for information has been refused, though perhaps, as a concerned parent or guardian, you may not agree. If you are really concerned, you should ask the professional how you can make a complaint.

The first person to complain to is the General Practice Manager. If this does not work, then you may wish to apply to the Information Commissioner or to the Local Area Health Authority, if you wish to access records, which have been refused.

What About If You Do Not Know Who Your Child's Doctor Is?

If you are unable to find out who your child's doctor is, for example, their other parent has not told you, then you can contact the Primary Care Trust or your Local Area Health Authority (the Local Authority in which your child resides) to ask for the details.

You must make a request in writing, again making sure that you include proof of your Parental Responsibility.

In summary, it is understandable that as a worried parent, you want to know all about your child's life. For younger children, it is important for you to be highly involved in their health. It is important, however, to remember that a health professional has an overall duty to do what is in the best interests of their patient and sometimes that means keeping their information confidential.

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Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
My partners daughter hasn't been to school for nearly a year, she has been assessed for ASD but neither the school or SEN department will tell him what the outcome is, the reason given is that she, his daughter and his ex say he shouldn't be given the information, can this be withheld legally ?
Helpme223 - 18-Jun-18 @ 9:25 PM
dbflex - Your Question:
I sent a letter to my son's surgery over two weeks ago (signed for so I know it was delivered) but have received no response. Should I wait longer and what would the next step be?

Our Response:
If you have not yet received a response follow up with a reminder note. If that elicits no further response, make a complaint to the relevant Clinical Commissioning Group.
LawAndParents - 24-Apr-18 @ 12:30 PM
I sent a letter to my son's surgery over two weeks ago (signed for so I know it was delivered) but have received no response. Should I wait longer and what would the next step be?
dbflex - 23-Apr-18 @ 9:25 AM
My partners daughter is 17 .her mother has deliberately refused my partner access to the child. The other 2 children live with my partner. The child has mental health issues being diagnosed with Bi Polar. And has just been sectioned. Both the other children have mental health issues which the mother couldn't handle so the children live with their father. The father is concerned and wants to find out where and how his daughter is but the mother is refusing. What legal steps can he take
Pj - 22-Apr-18 @ 4:08 PM
dbflex - Your Question:
Following up, the local primary care authority approached my son's mother for permission to have access to his medical records. This is despite my proving parental responsibility. Are they allowed to do this?

Our Response:
No they should not ask for the mother's consent unless there is a record of DV, abuse etc
LawAndParents - 21-Mar-18 @ 3:07 PM
Following up, the local primary care authority approached my son's mother for permission to have access to his medical records. This is despite my proving parental responsibility. Are they allowed to do this?
dbflex - 20-Mar-18 @ 10:39 AM
dbflex - Your Question:
I have asked the primary care authority who my son's GP is as he and his mother hardly speak. That was three weeks ago - they said my request has been passed to the appropriate department but they will not provide a direct contact. What can I do?

Our Response:
Put your request in writing, if you have parental responsibility you have a right to information/involvement in this aspect of your son's life. There is a range of Letter templates here on our sister site Separated Dads
LawAndParents - 19-Mar-18 @ 10:37 AM
I have asked the primary care authority who my son's GP is as he and his mother hardly speak. That was three weeks ago - they said my request has been passed to the appropriate department but they will not provide a direct contact. What can I do?
dbflex - 16-Mar-18 @ 9:52 AM
Having difficulty with obtaining my daughter's medical records through her doctors. I have written letters but my requests have been denied on the bases that I need a court order to obtain them 2nd letter I sent with relevant info from .gov website I had no response. I'm getting concerned for my daughter's health and well being where can I go now
Mexmatt - 14-Mar-18 @ 12:09 PM
Jules - Your Question:
HiAlthough it states that your child has to give permission for you to access their records, does this still apply if they are in a mental institution?

Our Response:
Here's what the BMA says:
"Patients with mental disorders or learning disabilities should not automatically be regarded as lacking the capacity to give or withhold consent to disclosure of confidential information. Unless unconscious, most people suffering from a mental impairment can make valid decisions about some matters that affect them. An individual’s mental capacity must be judged in relation to the particular decision being made. If therefore a patient has the requisite capacity, requests for access by relatives or third parties require patient consent. When patients lack mental capacity, health professionals are likely to need to share information with any individual authorised to make proxy decisions. Both the Mental Capacity Act in England and Wales and the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act contain powers to nominate individuals to make health and welfare decisions on behalf of incapacitated adults. The Court of Protection in England and Wales, and the Sheriff’s Court in Scotland, can also appoint deputies to do so. This may entail giving access to relevant parts of the incapacitated person’s medical record, unless health professionals can demonstrate that it would not be in the patient’s best interests. These individuals can also be asked to consent to requests for access to records from third parties. Where there are no nominated individuals, requests for access to information relating to incapacitated adults should be granted if it is in the best interests of the patient. In all cases, only relevant information should be provided."
LawAndParents - 12-Feb-18 @ 10:12 AM
Hi Although it states that your child has to give permission for you to access their records, does this still apply if they are in a mental institution?
Jules - 9-Feb-18 @ 12:03 PM
kelly - Your Question:
In my son's younger years he was diagnosed with ADHA, and other Mental, and Nervous disorders, and was placed on numerous medications. He had changed Doctors numerous times throughout his younger years, (Due to the Doctor leaving the practice, or our family moving out of state.) and each had either removed him from one medication, or added to them. At the age of 16 he decided he no longer wanted to take these medications due to the fact that they were causing other problems. The Doctor he was seeing at that time had no objections to his request. He is now currently 22 years of age, and has not suffered from any symptoms, or side effects of the disorders the Doctors diagnosed him of having, or from the medications he once took for them. Over the past 8 years either my recently deceased mother-in-law, or myself has tried to obtain life insurance on him as we have done with my other children, and have been denied coverage for him the fourth time now due to something in his medical records from a previous Doctor he had seen when he was 13 years old. My question is even though he is now 22 years of age can I be granted access to his medical records with his consent to see what is in his medical records that keeps getting him denied for life insurance being that I was responsible for him during that time frame?

Our Response:
Your son can ask for access to his medical records - he could let you know if there was anything pertinent in them that might affect his life insurance.
LawAndParents - 18-Dec-17 @ 2:50 PM
In my son's younger years he was diagnosed with ADHA, and other Mental, and Nervous disorders, and was placed on numerous medications. He had changed Doctors numerous times throughout his younger years, (Due to the Doctor leaving the practice, or our family moving out of state.) and each had either removed him from one medication, or added to them. At the age of 16 he decided he no longer wanted to take these medications due to the fact that they were causing other problems. The Doctor he was seeing at that time had no objections to his request. He is now currently 22 years of age, and has not suffered from any symptoms, or side effects of the disorders the Doctors diagnosed him of having, or from the medications he once took for them. Over the past 8 years either my recently deceased mother-in-law, or myself has tried to obtain life insurance on him as we have done with my other children, and have been denied coverage for him the fourth time now due to something in his medical records from a previous Doctor he had seen when he was 13 years old. My question is even though he is now 22 years of age can I be granted access to his medical records with his consent to see what is in his medical records that keeps getting him denied for life insurance being that I was responsible for him during that time frame?
kelly - 15-Dec-17 @ 10:19 PM
Where to start! I split from my ex wife when the two boys were 5 and 3. They are now 16 and 14. It has always been a constant battle to maintain healthy contact with them due you obstacles being placed in the way. Four years ago I had to engage a solicitor as it would have been the 5th Christmas in a row that I was promised time with the boys only to have it removed. However, this all pales into insignificance. In July 2016 I took both my sons to Italy for my wedding. Five months later, as I'm negotiating Christmas with the boys I have a huge bombshell dropped on me. I am told that my son was diagnosed as being bipolar back in June (before the trip abroad). Further, I am informed that he was prescribed very strong medication (two different types in an attempt to see which was best) and that he had been removed from school and placed in a special NHS school because of his mental health.I was only informed of all this, 7 months after diagnosis because it was the excuse used to not let him come away for Christmas. He was sent abroad for the wedding,and was given a story by his mother that he couldn't take his medication due to issues with customs! My own thoughts are that this would have caused me to ask questions if I saw the medication, as she had good reason to not inform me. Previously, I have had to quash her self diagnosis(more of this "self diagnosis" later) when she tried to have him diagnosed with Dyspraxia and ADHD earlier in his life. Both were subsequently dismissed. On being told of his bipolar in December last year I contacted and spoke with his psychiatrist who told me how this was such a "clear cut diagnosis" and how rare this is in his 30 year career in the profession as it's not normally fully apparent at 15. A little more delving with the physiatrist and I discovered that he had never actually seen an episode of mania (and neither had any other health professional) and that the evidence had been solely provided by his mother. I had been asking the doctor for more information on my son but was having it turned down, including a second opinion by another doctor. On informing the doctor of her previous attempts to have him diagnosed AND mentioning that my sons Auntie (the mothers own sister) is a mental health social worker and with regular contact had never seen any signs of mania etc, he was given a second opinion and removed from the strong medication he was prescribed. Despite my son now not spending his life in his bedroom in a confused state, and engaging in life again, I am considered a meddler and his mother has managed to totally end any contact with me and him.. I live 200 miles away so they always know when I'm arriving and they always make sure he is not available to be seen. He won't have a phone (I suspect he might but I'm not privy to it) so they have fully tied up all avenues of direct contact. His younger brother seems to have seen through her. He told me that she has approached him on two occasions and s
Johnny - 28-Nov-17 @ 5:21 AM
Hi, I am trying to get some information, I am estranged from my sons mother (my son being 7 yrs old) The house in which he lives is in an appalling state, there is dog and cat feces everywhere including on his bed. His mother doesnt bathe him ever. She has now decided to play god with him and access to me. I am named on his birth certificate and therefore have automatically have parental responsibility. I am tired of her dictating my visiting and sleepovers with my son. She is a very bad influence she has punched me in the face numerous times in fron of my son. She uses bad language in front of my son which he then reciprocates. I need some advice on how I can find a legal bit whereby I can pre vent her from playing god and acting in such a controlling matter. Thanks
Gav - 22-Nov-17 @ 8:53 PM
Wes - Your Question:
Hi, I have two sons 7 & 4 and have been separated from their mother for nearly two years. It has be reported that my youngest is showing signs of dyspraxia. I have asked to be included in all medical appointments regarding this but somehow I am being blocked, even by the practice. is this right? I have full parental responsibility, see my children very often and I'm on their birth certificates. I arranged a telephone appointment, as I found out my son had an appointment to be assessed. I had to call the surgery as they hadn't called, I spoke to a receptionist, they said doctor is calling very soon. 1 hour later I ring again and another receptionist tells me that my son never had an appointment. it was his mother. So basically, my had an appointment/assessment as I was told, by staff that he didn't? Their mother has told them not to let me know. Their mother has also told me that she won't give me info on any of my sons assessments for what's happening. Is this right? Can I apply to see their medical records?RegardsWes

Our Response:
As a father (with parental responsibility), you have a right to know about important issues in your child's life; this includings issues relating to education, health etc. Your GP practice, should be able to tell you about your son's medical history, any good practice will be aware of this. Write to them formally requesting records, details of check ups, vaccinations, any treatment your child has received and copies of any documentation sent to your son's mother about the dyspraxia (or any the other medical conditions).
Explain that you have already requested this information by phone and that as a parent with Parental Responsibility, you have the right to be fully involved in making decisions about any potential medical treatment and that the practice does not need the prior consent of the mother. Ask that your letter is placed on your child's medical record and that your name is also registered as an emergency contact if the mother cannot be contacted.
This should be sufficient to force the practice to keep you informed.
LawAndParents - 6-Nov-17 @ 11:23 AM
Hi, I have two sons 7 & 4 and have been separated from their mother for nearly two years. It has be reported that my youngest is showing signs of dyspraxia. I have asked to be included in all medical appointments regarding this but somehow I am being blocked, even by the practice.. is this right? I have full parental responsibility, see my children very often and I'm on their birth certificates. I arranged a telephone appointment, as I found out my son had an appointment to be assessed. I had to call the surgery as they hadn't called, I spoke to a receptionist, they said doctor is calling very soon.. 1 hour later I ring again and another receptionist tells me that my son never had an appointment.. it was his mother. So basically, my had an appointment/assessment as I was told, by staff that he didn't? Their mother has told them not to let me know. Their mother has also told me that she won't give me info on any of my sons assessments for what's happening. Is this right? Can I apply to see their medical records? Regards Wes
Wes - 4-Nov-17 @ 7:49 AM
Mich - Your Question:
My partner has concerns about his daughter and is wanting to take her to her gp, is he able to? His daughter dosent live with him but he is on her birth cert and has contact with her every week. Thanks in advance

Our Response:
He should discuss this with the mother really. If she is ill during her with time with him, he can take her to her GP as he is the parent in charge of her care at that point.
LawAndParents - 3-Nov-17 @ 3:04 PM
My partner has concerns about his daughter and is wanting to take her to her gp, is he able to? His daughter dosent live with him but he is on her birth cert and has contact with her every week. Thanks in advance
Mich - 3-Nov-17 @ 12:35 AM
Nelly - Your Question:
Hi, I was told today by surgery staff that a new rule has just been brought in saying we parents can no longer gain access to our 11 yrs or older children's medical record, results etc. by phone, online or otherwise. We'd require an appt. with GP to do so in which child was present. Surely this can't be correct? Blood results for example.does child phone up for them?

Our Response:
Here's what the General Medical Coucil advises medical practices:
You should let parents access their child’s medical records if the child or young person consents, or lacks capacity, and it does not go against the child’s best interests. If the records contain information given by the child or young person in confidence you should not normally disclose the information without their consent.
Young people with capacity have the legal right to access their own health records and can allow or prevent access by others, including their parents. A child might of course achieve capacity earlier or later. In any event you should usually let children access their own health records. But they should not be given access to information that would cause them serious harm or any information about another person without the other person’s consent.
The BMC advice is similar:
Anyone with parental responsibility has a statutory right to apply for access to their child’s health records. If the child is capable of giving consent, access may only be given with his or her consent. It may be necessary to discuss parental access alone with children if there is a suspicion that they are under pressure to agree. (For example, the young person may not wish a parent to know about a request for contraceptive advice.)
LawAndParents - 29-Sep-17 @ 11:24 AM
Hi, I was told today by surgery staff that a new rule has just been brought in saying we parents can no longer gain access to our 11 yrs or older children's medical record, results etc. by phone, online or otherwise. We'd require an appt. with GP to do so in which child was present. Surely this can't be correct? Blood results for example ...does child phone up for them?
Nelly - 27-Sep-17 @ 2:05 PM
Hi there, Hoping someone can help. I'm trying to find out which gp's my son is registered at. My ex took him away six years ago. He will be seven in December and I have been fighting to get proper access. I see him every two weeks now at a contact centre as it's a 500 mile round trip so can't do it every week. But I got a court order for this access and the judge also said that she needed to give me his school and gp info. She has given me the school info, but not the gp info.I'm not even sure where he lives as I just know it's in Southampton or Portsmouth somewhere. I do have full pr as I'm on birth certificate. Any ideas?
Mason - 26-Sep-17 @ 3:07 PM
Hannah - Your Question:
Glad I found this forum long story short but my daughter have been ill from day one from birth distress, to being in SCBU, being discharged with a collapsed upper lung lobe collapse (letter to prove) to being in intensive care for 12 weeks and a children's hospital for 9 months, in and out of our children's ward until she was ready and big enough for surgery for fundlopication and gastrostomy, all her tests revealed her acid levels were normal but they still said it was GERD she's still fed through a gastrostomy now and she will be 9 in December ?? I need advice on how I go about getting her medical records so I can compare and find out an actual diagnosis I have never been told about. Under a ENT specialist at the moment and still not getting any answers I need to know what is wrong with my own child and I feel I have no knowledge of anything. Thank you please get back in touch

Our Response:
There is information on how to obtain access to medical records on the NHS website here. You may need to consult a medical lawyer to help with accessing the documents, understanding them and taking action.
LawAndParents - 1-Aug-17 @ 2:27 PM
Glad I found this forum long story short but my daughter have been ill from day one from birth distress, to being in SCBU, being discharged with a collapsed upper lung lobe collapse (letter to prove) to being in intensive care for 12 weeks and a children's hospital for 9 months, in and out of our children's ward until she was ready and big enough for surgery for fundlopication and gastrostomy, all her tests revealed her acid levels were normal but they still said it was GERD she's still fed through a gastrostomy now and she will be 9 in December ?? I need advice on how I go about getting her medical records so I can compare and find out an actual diagnosis I have never been told about. Under a ENT specialist at the moment and still not getting any answers I need to know what is wrong with my own child and I feel I have no knowledge of anything. Thank you please get back in touch
Hannah - 28-Jul-17 @ 11:40 PM
I understand exactly where your coming from marky. I've been separated from my ex wife for over 3 years to discover my daughter is used for disability payments for global development delay . Through fighting thru the courts for access I've discovered that over these years she's usedevery organisation available without informing me . Recently I've been involved in a meeting with senco only to find there'snothing wrong with her . Which I knew anyway . At twelve years of age to be made to feel she has a problem just for financial gain is wrong on soo many levels . This will affect her for the rest of her life .
Booboo - 13-Jul-17 @ 8:12 PM
Marky - Your Question:
Hiya basically am abit concerned and I could be completely wrong about this but am not on my sons birth certificate which means am weeing in the wind when it comes to anything, I would like to know about my sons health record because sometimes it seems to me that am just getting told what I need to know as and when and am concerned because I think my sons mam is using him as a money making machine she has him down as ASD and disability but when I have him of a weekend his perfectly fine and full of life which has me concerned because when she gets money which is supposed to be for my child it seems to go on her not my son and when it does its small doses, like I said I might be completely wrong but how do I get my sons health record just to make sure his ok, thanks in regards

Our Response:
If you are the child's natural father but not on the birth certificate you can apply for parental responsibility by simply completing an application form if the mother consents. If you can't agree on arrangements you will need to apply via the courts using formC1
LawAndParents - 28-Jun-17 @ 11:48 AM
Hiya basically am abit concerned and I could be completely wrong about this but am not on my sons birth certificate which means am weeing in the wind when it comes to anything, I would like to know about my sons health record because sometimes it seems to me that am just getting told what I need to know as and when and am concerned because I think my sons mam is using him as a money making machine she has him down as ASDand disability but when I have him of a weekend his perfectly fine and full of life which has me concerned because when she gets money which is supposed to be for my child it seems to go on her not my son and when it does its small doses, like I said I might be completely wrong but how do I get my sons health record just to make sure his ok, thanks in regards
Marky - 26-Jun-17 @ 6:53 PM
Niki - Your Question:
My friends daughter is suffering with mental illness she's 13 and is experiencing psychosis. Her father also has severe mental health but won't disclose his diagnosis information as to weather its hereditary. Can my friend request his health records on behalf of the child for the purpose of hereditary evidence or does the father need to give consent? This has already been refused by him And she is desperately trying to find a way to help her child, there's also another younger child who too can be affected. Thank you to anyone with any information x

Our Response:
The father would usually need to give consent. We're guessing a court might be able to order him to allow access to the information but you should seek professional legal help really.
LawAndParents - 24-May-17 @ 11:32 AM
My friends daughter is suffering with mental illness she's 13 and is experiencing psychosis. Her father also has severe mental health but won't disclose his diagnosis information as to weather its hereditary. Can my friend request his health records on behalf of the child for the purpose of hereditary evidence or does the father need to give consent? This has already been refused by him And she is desperately trying to find a way to help her child, there's also another younger child who too can be affected. Thank you to anyone with any information x
Niki - 23-May-17 @ 12:25 AM
Ade - Your Question:
How do I request a copy of my 16year old sons medical records he has a diagnosis of autism and is transferring from dla to pip and I need records to send in as evidence

Our Response:
Write a note to your son's GP and/or hospital consultant asking for copies of any relevant information.
LawAndParents - 19-May-17 @ 2:35 PM
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