Safeguarding confidentiality review
Learn more about the Ombudsman and Commissioner’s report and recommendations about the confidentiality of notifiers
The Ombudsman and Commissioner’s recommendations
Consideration of confidentiality safeguards for notifiers
The Ombudsman and Commissioner recommended that Ahpra introduces a new step in the notifications process to proactively consider safeguarding the confidentiality of the notifier. Ahpra could mitigate risks of harm to notifiers by assessing on a case-by-case basis how the notifier’s personal information will be used and whether it is necessary to disclose the notifier’s identity to the practitioner in the first instance.
Improvements to the administrative management of confidential and anonymous notifications
The Ombudsman and Commissioner recommended that identified gaps in Ahpra’s policies, processes and staff training in relation to confidential and anonymous notifications be addressed, including by:
- strengthening guidance for Ahpra staff regarding confidentiality safeguards for notifiers
- improving how confidential and anonymous notifications are recorded in Ahpra’s electronic case management system (Pivotal) and, where possible, automating processes for managing confidential and anonymous notifications.
Improvements to communication about privacy and confidentiality for notifiers
The Ombudsman and Commissioner recommended that Ahpra reviews all communications about notifications and makes necessary amendments to ensure consistency in messaging about a notifier’s privacy. It was also recommended that Ahpra requires staff to have a verbal discussion with notifiers about how their personal information will be used and disclosed during the notifications process.
Consequences for practitioners who harm, threaten, intiminate, harass or coerce notifiers
The Ombudsman and Commissioner recommended that Ahpra develop guidance for staff about how to deal with information that suggests a practitioner has sought to harm, threaten, intimidate, harass or coerce a notifier.
Further, the Ombudsman and Commissioner recommended that Ahpra seeks an amendment to the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law to make it an offence for a registered health practitioner to harm, threaten, intimidate, harass or coerce a notifier.
Managing the risk of vexatious notifications
While the evidence suggests that vexatious notifications are rare, the Ombudsman and Commissioner recommended that Ahpra develops and publishes a framework for identifying and dealing with this type of notification.
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