Records from the last 20 years
If you are seeking access to records less than 20 years old, you should contact your GP or the data protection or patient information manager at the hospital, clinic or other NHS centre where the treatment took place.
If this is closed and the institution had no obvious successor body, the only alternative may be to contact the legacy records teams of NHS England or NHS Wales.
Records older than 20 years
A small proportion of records of local NHS bodies, including hospitals and clinics, are retained, for broadly historical purposes, under the Public Records Act 1958. These are usually held by local authority public archive services.
You can search our catalogue, which lists historical records held not just at The National Archives but at archives all over the UK, to find contact and collection details of local archives – search by county, city, town or other place name. It may also direct you to more detailed online catalogues maintained by the local archives themselves.
For most NHS institutions these records will not include individual patient files, but may include less detailed documents, such as admission and discharge registers. Material containing information about identifiable patients will not normally be accessible to the public for a period of 100 years except as noted above.
The vast majority of these historical records are available only in their original paper form – they are very unlikely to be available online or in any other digital form. If you are entitled to access them, you should be able to view them where they are held or ask for copies to be made and sent to you.
Records from closed hospitals and other NHS institutions
If the NHS organisation no longer exists, records are likely to have been transferred to a new NHS organisation performing similar functions in the area, which in turn may have transferred some records to a public archive service. This can be difficult to trace over time.
You may be able to find them by using the Hospital Records Database if you are looking for records from the 1980s or before. The database is searchable by:
- hospital name
- managing NHS organisation
This database has not been consistently updated since the 1990s and our catalogue will prove more accurate for records transferred since that time.