Many members have asked us what they need to do if they want to be involved in the contaminated blood and blood products inquiry and what to do with any evidence they may hold, such as records. We have put together below some advice on what to do with evidence you already hold and how to go about getting medical records.
Informing the Inquiry
If you have evidence or want to give testimony to the inquiry you need to inform the Inquiry of your wish. To do this you need to complete a short form that can be found on the Inquiry Web Site at https://www.infectedbloodinquiry.org.uk/evidence/.
They are not yet asking for documents and other evidence, so keep anything you have safe. The Inquiry, or your legal representatives if you have them, will contact you about the details separately. (If you are joining with The Haemophilia Society and our legal team we will be in contact with you in due course.)
Accessing medical records
England and Wales
A request for your medical records should be made directly with the healthcare provider that provided the treatment, such as your GP surgery or hospital/haemophilia centre.
It is worth requesting records from both as some members have told us GP records have copies of letters that are no longer in their main hospital notes. This is known as a Subject Access Request (SAR), as set out by the Data Protection Act of 1998. Many healthcare providers have SAR forms that you can complete and return by email or by post. You can access your GP records, and nominate someone you trust to access them, through GP online services at Visit GP online services. This is free of charge although charges may apply if you wish to see the originals or get physical copies of your health records. No fee is charged to see your records but if you wish to take a copy away you may be charged. The charge will vary, depending on how the information is stored. The maximum charges are:
- £10 for records that are only held electronically
- up to £50 for those records that are not available in electronic form or only partially available in electronic form .
The Chair of the Inquiry, Sir Brian Langstaff, has written to the NHS Chief Executives in England and Wales stressing the importance of these records to the Inquiry and urging that any charges be waived. Copies of his letters can be seen here – NHS England – NHS Scotland – NHS Wales – NHS Ireland. The Director General of NHS Wales has confirmed they have directed that fees will be waived for those witnesses to the Inquiry.
By law, you’re entitled to receive a response no later than 40 days after your application is received, your identity is checked and any relevant fee has been paid. You will then receive an appointment to see your records.
If you have asked to see a copy of your records, they should be written out in a form that you can understand. This means that abbreviations and complicated medical terms should be explained. If you still do not understand any part of the record, the health professional who is holding the record should explain it to you.
You can also read the Information Commissioners Office Subject Access code of practice guidance for more information.
If you want to view the health records of a deceased person, you can apply in writing to the record holder under the Access to Health Records Act (1990).
It is similar to the above and you can apply in writing to the practice manager at your GP and records manager at hospital. NHS Boards do not charge for access to a person’s own records and have been asked to waive charges in respect of the records of a deceased person.
You can ask your GP for access to your records, for hospital notes the letter needs to go to your hospital’s records manager.
Records may also be available from the National Haemophilia Database. To access this information you need to complete their form available here.