Page 736 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 28 March 2023

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Minister, is there or is there not a longstanding relationship that allows disclosure of personal patient information to the union when nurses and midwives have specific concerns?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: It seems that, in my previous answer, I pre-empted Ms Castley’s question. I did speak specifically about what Mr Daniel, the ACT secretary of the ANMF said in relation to that, which was that the best practice in those circumstances is that patient data is shared in a de-identified way where that is relevant to addressing either work, health and safety concerns of staff or concerns from staff around their capacity to deliver safe and appropriate patient care for an individual patient.

Yes, there is a longstanding and strong relationship between Canberra Health Services and the Australian Nurses and Midwifery Federation. It is a relationship that this government strongly supports—a relationship between an organisation and a union to ensure that staff are being appropriately represented by their industrial representatives when they have concerns about work, health and safety or around the capacity to do their job in the way that they would like to do it to ensure patient safety.

We believe that the union is a very important partner in that work, and we hope that we can continue to maintain a positive relationship with the union, despite the significant challenges that this current situation is presenting, because we know that it is very, very important that our staff are able to be appropriately represented by their relevant union.

MS CASTLEY: Minister, how can you rule out previous disclosures, given the union claims this is a ‘longstanding’ practice?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I have not and I cannot possibly rule out previous disclosures. What I said last week was that there was no evidence that the type of activity that had been identified and alleged in relation to these three staff members and the 13 patients that it related to is widespread in the organisation.

I would emphasise the points that Minister Davidson has previously made around the very significant training of staff. My understanding is that there are two separate modules that all staff complete in relation to information sharing and patient privacy and there is an additional module that mental health staff are also required to complete. In addition, all of our health professionals that are registered professionals are required to update their registration details every year and, in doing that, they also, I understand, are reminded and sign up to their obligations under the professional codes of conduct.

I think we can see from the number of referrals that have been made in relation to this specific alleged matter that there are a number of potential consequences for staff if they do in fact breach patient privacy.

MR COCKS: Minister, will you guarantee that any and all staff involved in an inappropriate disclosure of a patient’s personal information will be stood down and/or dismissed?

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