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Access to Restricted Hospital Records

Hospital records which include personal and sensitive medical information of patients or hospital staff are restricted for up to 100 years.

For patients, this means that any record of a patient created during the time they were receiving hospital treatment cannot be viewed for 100 years after date of death or discharge. For example if a patient was admitted in May 1910 and remained in hospital until June 1955, their record would not be accessible for general research until after June 2055.

For hospital staff, this means that any records containing personal or sensitive details about staff members created during the time they were employed at a hospital cannot be viewed for 75 years after the last recorded date. For example if a member of staff was employed by a hospital between 1954 and 1957 their staff file would not be open for general research until 2033.

However there are exceptions to restricted access rules for individuals wishing to view their own record/s, individuals looking for records of a family member and individuals requiring access to medical records for academic research. Please see sections below for further information.

How can I access my own hospital records?

We hold historic records of some local hospitals in North East Wales. For more information about what we hold you can search our catalogue or see the Hospital and Public Health subject guide.

If we hold patient records of a hospital at which you received treatment you can apply for access via the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.

How can I access records of a living family member?

Patient records contain sensitive information which means you can only access a living person’s records if you’re authorised to do so. To access someone else’s health records, you must:

  • be acting on their behalf with their consent, or
  • have legal authority to make decisions on their behalf (power of attorney), or
  • have another legal basis for access

If you would like to request access to a living person’s medical record held by North East Wales Archives you must apply for permission to do so via the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.

How can I access records of a deceased family member or ancestor?

Even as a direct descendant of a deceased patient or staff member you do not automatically have the right to view their patient/staff file. Patient records contain sensitive information and Denbighshire and Flintshire County Councils, as data controller, have a duty of care to the deceased and their family to ensure that this restricted material is not shared inappropriately.

To apply for access to a deceased person’s record you will need to contact us with details including the name and date of birth of the patient, approximate dates they attended the hospital and proof that they are now deceased (i.e. a death certificate). Your request will then be processed under The Freedom of Information Act as agreed with Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board. You will also need to provide proof of identification (such as your passport or driving licence) and proof of your relationship to the patient, normally by producing copies of birth and marriage certificates.

If your ancestor’s patient record has survived you may then be offered a summary of the material held e.g. date of admittance, diagnosis and date of discharge which will be dealt with outside of Freedom of Information legislation providing you can submit proof that you are the executor/next of kin or acting on behalf of the executor/next of kin. Access to the original patient file (or copies of) will not be granted.

Depending on the time it takes to find a patient record there may be a charge for this service. Please see our charges for further information.

How can I use hospital records for academic/medical research?

Access to restricted hospital records may be granted to researchers who are carrying out academic research at post graduate level or for medical research.

To apply to use the collection for academic/medical research you must complete and return this form along with a letter of support from your university and/or evidence that you are carrying out medical research. Applications to use the collection will then be considered by staff at the archives alongside Information Governance staff at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.

Any research papers produced using hospital records must be anonymised.

Please contact us for further information.