Thyroid UK
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How to give permission for your doctor to talk to a friend/family member?


I was wondering... If I became so unwell that talking to doctors became difficult for me and I required a friend or family member to talk to them for me, how do I get around the data protection act and doctor/patient confidentiality? Is there a legal format that one can use to instruct the doctors to give all and any information on one's health to that person should they ask for it?

I'm not talking about enduring power of attorney or anything like that, just the ability for a third party to ask questions on one's behalf or to obtain test results and things like that.

What are the legal implications of this sort of thing?

Any help/advice in this area would be greatly appreciated.

Carolyn x

18 Replies

There are 2 sorts of power of attorney 'tho - one for Financial matters and one for matters of Health - perhaps a signed witnessed letter? J :D


Thanks. Would the GP have to abide by this letter or could they refuse?


I don't know but my Mum's solicitor said without the Health POA, agencies such as social services could have meetings and make decisions without needing to include or consult next of kin etc. J


Thanks :)


It seems some surgeries have forms to complete if you wish to give them consent to pass on your medical information to a third party. This may be one way of doing it.


If you go to the main Thyroid UK web site:

(Sorry - couldn't resist. :-) )

There is a link to an NHS page:

This is what you will find there:

Applying for access to someone else’s health records

Depending on which health records you want to see, submit your request in writing or by email to:

the person’s GP surgery

the person’s optician

the person’s dentist

the health records manager at the hospital trust where the person was treated

any other body that holds personal information

If you are applying for records on behalf of another individual in exercise of their rights, this is known as a Subject Access Request (SAR).

You can also submit your request using an Access Request Form. This is available from your GP, your local primary care trust or hospital trust.

If possible, send a copy of the person’s written permission with your request. In cases where it is not possible to obtain written consent, other arrangements may need to be made to confirm that the patient has given consent.

The health records manager, GP or other healthcare professional will decide whether the request can be approved. They can refuse your request if, for example, they believe that releasing the information may cause serious harm to the person’s physical or mental health or that of someone else.

Under the Data Protection Act, requests for access to records should be met within 40 days. However, government guidance for healthcare organisations says they should aim to respond within 21 days.

Where patients are unable to give consent

If a patient is unconscious or unable to give consent or communicate a decision about their health records due to a mental or physical condition, their health professionals must take decisions about the use of information.

These decisions need to take into account the patient’s best interests and any previous wishes or decisions they may have expressed. The views of relatives or carers as to the likely wishes of the patient should also be taken into account.

If a patient is unable to consent, information should only be given that is in the patient’s best interests, and then only as much as is needed to support their care.



Ok. Thanks.

So does that mean that if I were too ill to communicate with my doctor directly and I wanted a close friend to do it and I wrote a letter asking that they communicate with this person and that this person is permitted to know any information they needed; the doctor could still refuse to tell them anything?

If that is the case it makes it very difficult for someone who is very unwell to get the help they need. There always seems to be some opt-out for the medical professional.

Sorry, I'm not much good with all this bureaucracy.


Hey Carolyn, hold on a minute, My husband has spoke on be half of me, obviously with me present, I asked doc if that was ok and they said yes, is this what you mean?

Also I have spoke to authorities in the past on behalf of friends, but my friend had to say who it was and that she gives permission for me to speak.

maybe Im barking up the wrong tree. xx


It' really about over the phone or without the person present, but with a letter having been written. I'm sure most doctors would be fine with this situation but some are really awkward :(


As I read it, if you are 100% clear and they have it in writing, it should not be a problem. But as it is always going to be their responsibility, they have to convince themselves that your representative is doing your bidding. So, realistically, you need to doing your letter/authorisation ahead of time and make everything very clear - no room whatsoever for them to misunderstand.

I'd really like it if someone who has had experience is able to add to this thread.


CarolynB, if you are 'that' unwell that you cannot speak or write then yes you would need like a 'lasting power of attorney' for medical reasons.

these links may be helpful:

I contacted the alzheimer's society about these things as I have a very strong history of EARLY onset alzheimer's in my family, I am worried if I 'lose it' there are certain things I feel 'strongly' about and therefore at the end of this year when my son turns 18 I will make him my 'attorney' so that he can make sure my wishes are followed if I cannot speak for myself.


Thanks for the gentle reminder NBD. Have been meaning to do this for my son since last summer. It is one of those daunting things that you put off until later. Later has now come. Janet.


Thanks for this. This is all just hypothetical but a friend is possibly going to be in this sort of situation soon so it's useful to know the options.


Your doctor may be happy to discus medical matters with a partner (not sure about a friend), just on a written say so by yourself. I would think its discretionary, but my partner certainly speaks to my doctor for me and she has also phoned him on occassions, simply because I have a phobia of doctors and gave written permission for her to discus my hypothyroidism and related conditions with him.

Its not life changing decisions he's making on my behalf, but it certainly makes things easier


Is there a way to call edysia's attention to this? I think she has mentioned that her doctor doesn't want to talk to the friend who helps her.


I will PM her :)


You do not have to go to a solicitor to get Power of Attorney. I just did this by getting the forms off the internet from the government offices "The Office Of The Public Guardian" (part of the court of protection). You have to get a friend or aquaintance who knows the person to be a witness, we used someone who had known my mum for 40 years being a next door neighbour of her brother where she used to visit a lot and he knew her and socialized at various occasions Birthday parties etc. It costs £260 for both the Health & Finances. My mother paid for it as the person who it concerned. If that person is non Compos Mentis you have to go to the court to petition..


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