Page 732 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 28 March 2023

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Canberra Health Services—data security

MS CASTLEY: My question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, following revelations of patient privacy breaches last week, the union involved hit back with counterclaims. They are reported as saying that if nurses were guilty of unlawfully disclosing information, so were bosses within Canberra Health Services, as they had disclosed patient information to the federation. Minister, to your knowledge, have bosses disclosed patient information to the union, as the union has claimed?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: We spoke about this quite considerably last week. Canberra Health Services was clearly of the view that the nature of the alleged information sharing from three staff—one has been terminated and two have been stood down—was a very serious matter and not something that would routinely happen nor that would be a normal matter that is investigated because someone inadvertently or in a one-off way released information to the union.

In relation to work health and safety issues, there are regularly conversations with the union when a staff member raises concerns about their own safety or the safety of their colleagues, or about their capacity to deliver safe care for patients—for example, when there are staffing pressures in—

Mr Hanson: A point of order on relevance, Madam Speaker. The question goes to whether the allegation from the union that bosses had also disclosed information to the union is true or not.

MADAM SPEAKER: I understand that the minister is responding appropriately and stating awareness of conversations between the service and the union.

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: Thank you, Madam Speaker. That is exactly what I was talking about. I am clearly not in a position to say that something definitively has or has not occurred. If the opposition are aware of any specific allegations in relation to the release of identified patient information then they should pass those allegations on. In relation to the conversations that I have had about workplace health and safety and patient safety—I have run out of time now, but Mr Hanson interrupted. (Time expired.)

MS CASTLEY: Minister, what investigations have you done to prove or disprove the union’s allegations?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I have had a number of conversations with Mr Peffer over the last few weeks about all these types of related matters. In relation to work health and safety issues where there may be a concern about the safety of an individual staff member or their colleagues, or about patient safety, there may be a conversation where the union is present, with a staff member or representing staff, to talk about the risk that a particular patient is presenting to staff or the risk that a particular situation is presenting to the safety of a patient. There should not be a need for those patients to be identified by name. It should be sufficient for the circumstances to be discussed without patient data or information being identified. In fact, if you listen to Mr Daniel’s interviews on radio, that is exactly what he is saying. He is saying that information is routinely shared, but best practice is to not have that patient—


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