Under routine access and administrative access all appropriate information will be made available to the requester having regard to privacy, confidentiality and the public interest. As a matter of policy, the health service supports your right to see what information is held about you within its service. Generally, access to your own health record should be provided administratively (subject to exceptions).
You must apply in writing to the appropriate service or agency, (e.g. for hospital records apply to the Hospital Manager). You must provide sufficient information to assist in locating your files, including your date of birth, current and previous addresses, the contacts you had with specific services and approximate dates. You may also be asked for proof of identity, for example providing a copy of your current passport or driver’s license. This is in order to protect your confidentiality. There will usually be no charge for copies of personal records. However, the health agency has the right to charge, if the quantity of records is very large, for photocopying and for X-ray copies. (See scale of charges below)
All health agencies offer a wide range of nonpersonal information to the public, about their services or performance, via web sites or leaflets/publications. In many instances, further information relating to the work of the agency, i.e. non-personal information, may be released on request. However, if the non-personal information requested is not readily available, it will be necessary to apply under the Freedom of Information Acts.
Routinely available information includes information in written format regarding services and benefits provided by the HSE and also any other information regarding care which is communicated to the individual by health professioinals in the course of their work. Administrative access involves a written request for information made to the appropriate centre of service.
Where access to a record or information cannot be provided to you directly under administrative access, you will be informed of this and advised of the option of making an application under the FOI Act. Likewise, certain information may be of such a sensitive nature that requests for access can only be dealt with under the FOI legislation. Examples of this type of sensitive information would include, a deceased person's health record, documents relating to suspected child abuse, documents revealing the involvement and deliberations of an investigation into alleged sexual abuse, documents relating to testing for HIV/ Aids etc.
Other Mechanisms for Access to Records
Information and Records are the property of the agency of which they are held, i.e. the HSE and are kept under strict security and apart from the circumstances above, may only be removed from the HSE under the following conditions:-
- Upon a Court Subpoena
- Search Warrant
- Court Orders
- Police Investigations
- Request and/or Investigation by the Information Commissioner or Ombudsman
- By an Officer authorised in writing by the Minister
Current statutory secrecy provisions in Health legislation may apply to the disclosure of information. Therefore, the release of such records/information will be made on the grounds of public interest and on the basis of upholding, enforcing and/or administering the law.
For more Information
If you would like more information, or have a query on any of the above, please contact the Office listed for your area.