JCZ and Department of Health
(210945, 21 December 2009)
The applicant applied for access under the Freedom of Information Act 1992 (Qld) (FOI Act) to documents relating to his medical treatment from the Department of Health (known as Queensland Health) (QH). QH refused the applicant access to part of the documents under sections 44(1) and 46(1)(a) of the FOI Act.
Section 44(1) of the FOI Act – personal affairs information
Assistant Commissioner (AC) Henry considered the principles in Stewart and Department of Transport (1993) 1 QAR 227B and Brisbane North Regional Health Authority (1994) 1 QAR 279 (B) and found that the matter in issue comprised personal affairs information (and in some cases shared personal affairs information and was therefore prima facie exempt from disclosure under section 44(1) of the FOI Act.
AC Henry then considered the following public interest considerations:
· the public interest in patients being able to gain access to information concerning their medical treatment
· the public interest in members of the community being given ways to ensure the accuracy of personal affairs information held by government
· the public interest in the accountability of government
· the inherent public interest in protecting personal privacy if the matter in issue concerns the personal affairs of a person other than the applicant
· the public interest in safeguarding the flow of information to agencies which will allow agencies to properly discharge their functions,
and found that:
· the public interest considerations favouring disclosure of the matter in issue did not outweigh the public interest considerations favouring non disclosure
· the matter in issue is exempt from disclosure under section 44(1) of the FOI Act.
Section 46(1)(a) of the FOI Act – breach of confidence
AC Henry also considered the application of section 46(1)(a) of the FOI Act and found that the necessary elements were satisfied as:
· the information was highly sensitive information which was communicated solely for the purpose of assisting in the applicant’s care and treatment at the Princess Alexander Hospital
· the information was communicated on the condition that it would be kept confidential and would not be communicated to another person for any other purpose
· the third party who supplied information to QH strongly objected to its disclosure
· the supplier of the information would suffer detriment if the relevant matter in issue was revealed to anyone other than the person to whom it was supplied.
On this basis, AC Henry found that the relevant matter in issue was exempt from disclosure under section 46(1)(a) of the FOI Act.