Medical Matters > Medical Disclosure

ME Essential Spring 2023


I have quite severe ME/CFS and am currently unable to work. However, my wife has a well-paid job and we are probably going to have to move house to another part of the country later in the year. As this may involve taking out some new insurance cover can I check what the position is regarding the disclosure of my medical information to an insurance company? Whilst I can understand why an insurance company would find it helpful to know about someone’s state of health, I am concerned about the accuracy of the information that my GP may be asked to provide – as he takes a rather sceptical view of ME/CFS and I very rarely see him.


The General Medical Council provides clear and detailed guidance to doctors about the circumstances where they can disclose medical information to the police, insurance companies and even relatives and what sort of medical information a doctor is allowed to disclose. The most important point is that disclosure by a doctor about a person’s state of health generally requires the explicit consent of the person involved – unless the doctor is required by law to do so, or disclosure can be justified in the public interest. 

If a doctor is asked to provide medical information for insurance purposes some insurers will provide a patient consent declaration. If there is any doubt the doctor should confirm that consent has been obtained from the patient. It is important that patients understand what information will be included in a medical report, the potential consequences of such a disclosure, and that doctors may not conceal or withhold relevant information.

Patients also have a statutory right to see a medical report under the Access to Medical Reports Act 1988.  Doctors can share a report in advance of disclosure, so the patient has a chance to correct any factual inaccuracies. Doctors should always correct any errors of fact, and any opinion that was based on those errors. However, if a patient asks a doctor not to disclose relevant medical information, a doctor would not be able to sign a report that he/she believes is misleading. 

A patient can withdraw consent to a report being disclosed. However, this is an action that could lead to adverse consequences. In general, doctors should abide by their patient’s wishes – unless disclosure of medical information could be justified in the public interest. Such situations are unusual and doctors are advised to discuss this type of situation with their medico-legal advisor before acting. 

Further information


Information provided by The ME Association should not be construed as medical advice. Don't assume any new or worsened symptoms are simply the result of having ME/CFS or Long Covid. We recommend that any information you deem relevant is discussed with your NHS GP as soon as possible. It is important that you seek personalised medical advice from the GP who is in charge of your care and who knows you well.

Search Medical Matters

Shopping Basket