Your health information at your fingertips

The NHS is working to make it easier for patients to digitally access their health information in their GP record so they can better understand and manage their health and since December 2022, GP practices across the country have started to enable their patients to access new health record entries online as part of a phased rollout.

Patients want access to their medical records. The interest in our recent joint webinar about online access to medical records, hosted by the Patients Association, made that clear.

We were asked so many questions during the event, we’ve had to take them away and answer them online. And every day, the advisers on the Patients Association helpline are asked by callers how to get hold of their GP-held or hospital records.

The most popular resource on is the page that explains how to access your medical records. In 2022, it was read 73,000 times and the template letter people can use to request their medical records, was downloaded nearly 5,000 times.


It’s clear to us that patients want to see the information health professionals record about them. We also believe it’s every patient’s right to see the health information recorded about them – that’s their information and it should be accessible to them. That means if patients want to see it, they should be able to, and the information should be recorded in a way that most patients will be able to understand.

That’s why we support the roll out of access to GP-held records via the NHS App (and other patient apps) that is happening across GP practices in England. Most patients aged 16 and over will automatically be able to view new entries in their GP clinical record. This includes details of medications, test results and records of appointments they’ve had with any clinician entering information onto the system.

Having access to their medical records helps patients manage their care better. Access ensures they can keep track of their medication, check test results and read any letters written about them by their GP or by specialists. Patients can share information with family should they wish to, as well as check if any information is missing.

Shared decisions

Having this information to hand improves patients’ ability to be actively involved in their care as they can use it to help make decisions about their care. It helps patients prepare for consultation, so improving shared decision making between themselves and healthcare professionals. As shared decision making is a fundamental part of patient partnership, we believe easily accessible health records promotes patient partnership too.

Patients’ experiences

Artie has several long-term health conditions, that they regularly blog about. They say: “I like being able to see my own blood tests via the app.

“It’s also nice to have this easily accessible record so I don’t have to worry about making notes and asking questions on the fly, I can see the results whenever I want and can prepare questions.”

Emma had a stroke five years ago and uses the NHS App to see her records. She says: “It’s important for me to be able to access my records digitally in order to prepare and maximise the benefits of appointments and to be able to support medical professionals by referencing correct dates and medications etc.”

Arthur often accesses his records using the NHS App and a service his GP practice uses. He says: “I use it to review my past history and records which I find very useful. I have also accessed documents to show the doctors in A&E which helped them in my treatment.”

*If you missed the webinar on medical records you can watch a recording online. You can also browse the questions and answers asked by the attendees of the webinar.

While steady progress is being made with giving patients access to their GP health record information, our ambition is that patients, wherever they live, should be able to benefit from this functionality – Dr Timothy Ferris, NHS England National Director of Transformation

The experiences described by Artie, Emma and Arthur are a reminder of exactly why we are working to improve online record access for people across the country. There is widespread international consensus about the benefits it brings to patients and is a principle supported widely by clinicians.

Enabling online record access is becoming increasingly established in many parts of our health service as we continue to work towards more joined-up care and embrace digital advances that empower patients to take an active role in managing their health and care.

For instance, Milton Keynes University Hospital (MKUH) along with Oxford University Hospitals were among the first in 2020 to enable patients to view their hospital records directly within the Health app on their iPhone, helping them to understand their care plans and prepare for upcoming appointments.

It is our ambition that patients, wherever they live, will be able to see their GP health record information at the touch of a button and we continue to make steady progress in making this a reality. Last month, more than 750 more practices switched on access to prospective (new) record access. It means one in five practices now offer full prospective record access by default – benefiting 6.5 million patients with online accounts.

The feedback we are receiving from practices that have recently switched on access is that the process went smoothly and has not caused any significant issues.

Over the coming months, we expect adoption among other practices to gather pace, as they see that the functionality can be enabled safely and to the benefit of patients and staff.

We must recognise that this does represent a big change for many practices and so concerns or anxieties are completely understandable. Transformation can often be difficult, particularly at a time of exceptional demand; it will take some adjustment and time to embed new practices. Nonetheless, the benefits to patient care are compelling drivers and we must afford these benefits to patients across the country.

Rachel Power

Rachel became Chief Executive of the Patients Association in 2017, bringing with her over 20 years’ experience of health and social care in the not-for-profit sector.

She has overseen a significant period of change at the Association. Rachel is a member of the NHS Assembly and also a member of several national health bodies.

Dr Timothy G Ferris, MD, MPH

Dr Timothy Ferris took up the post as the National Director of Transformation on 10 May 2021.

Dr Ferris, who has served as a non-executive director of NHS Improvement for almost three years, is internationally renowned for his pioneering work on improving health and care in both hospital and community settings.

He will lead the new Transformation Directorate, bringing together the organisation’s operational improvement team and NHSX, the digital arm, to maintain the pace of innovation seen during the pandemic.

Dr Ferris joins the NHS full-time from the not-for-profit Massachusetts General Physicians Organization, where he is chief executive, and a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He founded the Center for Population Health, which champions the use of prevention and data to improve health, reduce inequalities, and save lives.