Privacy exemption for Council to look at case notes

Ms Miriam Wyzenbeek, Former Professional Officer HPCA

The Psychology Council of NSW (the Council) is a statutory authority whose functions include dealing with complaints and health and performance notifications about psychologists in relation to incidents occurring in NSW. The Council collects and retains information which includes personal and health information about psychological practitioners and clients for these purposes. Personal information is used and retained in accordance with the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act, 1998 and the Health Records and Information Privacy Act, 2002.

The issue of whether the Council or Council appointed assessor can have access to client case notes and other psychological records as part of the assessment process is commonly raised. In many instances, review of these documents is considered to be an important and necessary part of the assessment process. As such, and as per the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (NSW), the Council (or the Council appointed assessor) does have the authority to access, view and copy any documents/records relating to the carrying out of professional practice. In regards to the maintenance of confidentiality, any psychological documents (including client case notes) reviewed or copied will be treated as confidential and sensitive material, and will be regarded as ‘protected reports’ for the purpose of the National Law (NSW).