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Breach of privacy a breach of patients’ trust

A privacy breach, which has seen the unauthorised release of confidential birth and death details of over 24,000 people, is inexcusable, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says.

“The Ministry of Health’s emailing of electronic files to all 950 pharmacists who use an online health portal is shocking, whether unintentional or not.

“Patients must be able to trust the information they give to doctors will only be accessible to staff involved in their treatment.

“This data was particularly sensitive. Its release would be hugely distressing to relatives and loved ones.

“Ministry staff know confidentiality is paramount when dealing with clients’ data and while this particular breach involved coded data, it follows a number of other high profile leaks of information from other Government departments, including ACC, WINZ and IRD.

“Any breach of this magnitude is unacceptable, full stop.

“The Ministry must now not only assure New Zealanders its systems are robust, but if any patients’ released details make them identifiable, families should be contacted and offered an apology,” Annette King says.