Request for health practitioner’s complaint history with HDC
The requester, a reporter at the Otago Daily Times (ODT), sought details of complaints made to the Health and Disability Commissioner (HDC) against a midwife. HDC refused the request under section 9(2)(a) of the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA), in order to protect the privacy of natural persons. Having reviewed the information at issue, I conclude that, on the facts of this case, HDC was entitled to rely on section 9(2)(a) of the OIA to refuse the request.
It is timely to reconsider the approach taken by Ombudsmen to requests for a health practitioner’s complaint history, in light of the growing recognition of the need for more transparency in the health sector. As Ombudsman, I have developed general principles to guide HDC in responding to future requests for the complaint history of a health practitioner. The principles may also be a useful guide, by analogy, for District Health Boards (DHBs) responding to OIA requests for a health practitioner’s complaint history. The general principles are attached as Appendix 1.