CJR and Medical Board of Queensland
(210676, 13 May 2009)
Section 46(1)(b) – Matter communicated in confidence – Whether complainant’s identity is exempt
The applicant sought access to information relating to a complaint to the Medical Board of Queensland (MBQ) regarding the applicant’s health. MBQ decided that certain matter was exempt under section 46(1)(b) of the FOI Act on the basis that the information was communicated in confidence.
Assistant Commissioner Henry (AC Henry) found that the information received by MBQ was of a confidential nature and had been communicated in confidence by the information provider on the express understanding that their identity and the information they provided would remain confidential so far as possible.
AC Henry considered the Health Practitioners (Professional Standards) Act 1999 (Qld) and found that as there is no power under that Act to compel people to provide information, the system of investigating whether a medical practitioner is impaired is reliant on the free flow of voluntary information. AC Henry found that releasing the matter in issue would dissuade people from providing information to MBQ regarding their concerns about the health of medical practitioners in the future.
In examining the public interest considerations in this case, AC Henry found that there is a strong public interest in maintaining the efficacy of a program which is designed to perform the statutory obligation of MBQ to protect the public by ensuring that health care is delivered by medical practitioners in a safe and competent way.
On this basis, the matter in issue was exempt under section 46(1)(b) of the FOI Act, and the decision under review was affirmed.