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Access to medical records for court cases can take 'a significant amount of time'

Manx Care says data protection legislation can impact requests for details

Ensuring advocates have access to their clients' medical records can take 'a significant amount of time' due to data protection legislation.

That's from Manx Care after two defence advocates voiced concerns over the time it takes to gain access to medical information in relation to court cases.

One advocate recently told the courts he was unable to progress a case as he was waiting for his client's medical records to be released to him.

He said the prison governor is trying to expedite matters, but that there is currently a "Manx Care backlog".

Without a full understanding of his client's medical background, he said he can't know which experts he'll need to give evidence in the case.

A second advocate, while discussing the need for medical evidence in an unrelated case, stated "it takes ages to get medical records".

In a statement to Manx Radio, Manx Care said: "The provision of medical records to Advocates is governed by Data Protection Legislation and each request is a Data Subject Access Request (DSAR). Depending upon the nature and scope of the request, some DSARs can take significant amounts of time to process. 

"The medical records which an advocate requests may cover a substantial number of years and complex or multiple medical conditions. Under the legislation redactions (for clinical harm and third party references) are required, this can involve additional time depending on how extensive or complex the record is.

"The Information Governance team work with advocates to try to expedite requests. The IG team do encourage Advocates to focus their requests to specific records if possible as general and broad requests will obviously take additional time.  

"If an advocate is seeking a report from an expert for a client, Manx Care may be able to share records direct to an appropriately qualified expert (‘clinician to clinician’) which can save significant time as redactions may not be required. Some advocates do not agree to this approach so redactions have to be undertaken, which may have a significant time implication. 

"If the IG team are advised of specific deadlines they will work with the advocates however short notice requests are not that uncommon and securing time from Clinicians who are undertaking redaction requests alongside service delivery to patients is challenging."

Manx Radio also invited the Department of Home Affairs to respond, but it declined to comment.

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