§ Mr. Redmond
To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will amend the Access to Health Records Act 1990 to allow patients full access to their complete records other than in exceptional circumstances; if he will make it his policy that patients will be issued with an explanatory statement when full access is denied; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Sackville
The Access to Health Records Act 1990 gives patients a right of access to their own health records compiled on or after 1 November 1991. If the record holder considers that access to earlier records is necessary for the later record to be understood, that also is permitted under the Act.
Access may be denied to all or part of the record if disclosure of any information in it might cause serious harm to the physical or mental health of the patient or to protect the health of another person. Access may also be denied if the record contains information which would identify a third party, other than a health professional, unless that person has consented to the disclosure.
Although the Act does not grant a general right of access to records made before 1 November 1991, questions of access to documents made before that date are matters for the judgment of the health professional primarily responsible for the patient's clinical care. However it is our policy that access be given whenever possible.
The Act does not require the record holder to inform the applicant when part of the record is withheld. It is a matter for the record holder whether to do so but our guidance does not require it and we have no plans to change the current arrangements.