Your rights

Under Confidentiality in the Charter of Patient Rights and Responsibilities, you have a right to:

  • have your information stored securely
  • access your health information
  • know how the NHS uses your information
  • know how the NHS shares your information
  • object to the NHS using your information

How your information is stored

The NHS stores your information securely in paper records and on computers.

If you have used any NHS services, there will be records stored:

  • at your GP practice
  • at any hospital you've attended
  • at your dental practice

The NHS is storing more and more of your personal health information on computers and eventually all of your records may be held in this way. This will make it easier for staff to share information about you.

All NHS staff have a legal duty to keep information about you confidential.

How the NHS uses your information

If you want to see, or get a copy of your health records, you will need to write to the:

  • practice manager at your GP practice
  • records manager at the hospital
  • NHS organisation that holds your health records.

Find out more about how to access your health records

Patient identifiable information

Sometimes the NHS uses information that does identify you (for example to include in a disease register). NHS staff will usually explain this to you before going ahead.

The NHS must seek permission before sharing patient identifiable information with:

  • employers
  • insurance companies
  • the media
  • teachers
  • researchers

Sharing your information

When using NHS services, your information may be shared with other people that need to know about your health in order to give you the right care and treatment.

This information will only be shared if you give consent.

More on how to give consent for your information to be shared

Sharing without your permission

The NHS will only share information without your permission if:

  • you are a child, and your doctor doesn’t think you can make decisions about your health care
  • you are an adult who cannot make decisions for yourself, or cannot tell others your decisions

If you cannot make decisions, the law allows someone to see your records and discuss your care if:

  • you have given them a welfare power of attorney
  • a court has given them a welfare guardianship or a welfare intervention order

In these cases, the person allowed to see your health information:

  • will only be able to see information necessary for them to make decisions about your care
  • will not receive information that may be harmful to your health or the health of others

Objections and complaints

If you are unhappy about how your health information has been kept or used, you should first talk to a member of NHS staff involved in your care.

If you are still unhappy, you have a right to make a complaint.

More on how to give feedback or make a complaint 

Your responsibilities

Under Confidentiality in the Charter of Patient Rights and Responsibilities, you have a responsibility to:

  • help keep your health records accurate and up-to-date
  • keep you own health information private

Your personal information

In order to keep your records up-to-date and accurate, you should tell the NHS:

  • if you change your name, address, phone number or email address
  • if any information in your health records is wrong
  • if you do not want your personal health information shared in a particular way


You also have the responsibility to protect the privacy of the personal health information which you hold, for example letters you have been sent by the NHS in Scotland.

Confidentiality factsheets

This information is also available as a factsheet, which has been translated into different languages and formats - including audio, BSL, large print and easy-to-read.

Print-ready versions for professionals are also available.

Download Confidentiality factsheet

Download Confidentiality: Your Rights factsheet

Download How the NHS Handles Your Personal Health Information factsheet