During the last decade there have been a number of legislative changes establishing and extending the rights of patients to have access to their own medical and social service records. The Data Protection Act 1984, as modified by the Subject Access Modification Order 1987, gave patients access to computerised medical records with certain restrictions, in particular for information thought to be harmful to patients. The Access to Personal Files Act of 1987 granted access to Social Services Records. Again there were restrictions, e.g. to protect clients from serious harm or to protect confidential staff judgements. Finally, the Access to Health Records Act of 1990, which took effect on 1 November 1991 gives patients access to their own medical records and enables them to correct inaccuracies which they may find. Information likely to cause serious harm to the physical or mental health of the patient or of any other individual who could be identified can be withheld.
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