If you are a health service provider and a patient seeks access to their record, which includes reports or letters written by other health professionals (such as specialists), do you have to give the patient access to these documents?
Yes, unless one of the exceptions to National Privacy Principle 6: Access (NPP 6) applies.
As an organisation collecting and maintaining a record of personal information about an individual, in this case to provide a health service, all the personal information in the record (which has been collected, used or disclosed after 21 December 2001) is subject to NPP 6. This is the case whether the documents have been written by you or another health professional, including if the document is marked 'in confidence'.
Therefore, the individual has a general right of access to all of the personal information about them in the record, unless one of the exceptions to NPP 6 applies. These exceptions include that giving access would pose a serious threat to the life or health of any individual, or this would have an unreasonable impact on the privacy of others, or it would prejudice certain law enforcement activities.
For more information on the operation of NPP 6 and the exceptions to providing access, see the Office's Guidelines on Privacy in the Private Health Sector, and the Information Sheet 4-2001 Access and Correction.