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Health and disability services: Your rights and how to enforce them

Privacy and your health information

Health professionals have to follow the rules in the Health Information Privacy Code 1994 dealing with how they collect your information and when they can release it to other people. This Privacy Code also specifically protects your rights to access your own health information.

Note: The Health Information Privacy Code overlaps with the privacy rights contained in the Privacy Act 2020.

Rules about collecting health information

Health Information Privacy Code 2020, clause 5, rules 1–4

Health professionals must collect health information directly from the you, not from other people.

Further, they can’t collect information in ways that are unfair or that intrude unreasonably into your personal affairs. For example, health information shouldn’t be collected in a waiting room where other people might overhear.

When can health professionals give my information to others?

Health Information Privacy Code 2020, clause 5, rule 11

In general, health professionals can’t give your health information to anyone else.

However, there are some exceptions. Health professionals can give your information to others if:

  • a specific law requires the health professional to release your information (for example, if there’s a risk to someone’s safety, or for statistical purposes)
  • they are discussing your care professionally with other doctors or medical staff as appropriate (in this case, the other staff must keep the information confidential)
  • it’s necessary to avoid a serious and imminent danger to you or someone else, and if it isn’t desirable or practicable to get your consent. In this case, health professionals can only give the information to people who can do something about the threat.

Do I have the right to access my medical files?

Health Information Privacy Code 2020, clause 5, rule 6

Yes. You have the right to see your personal medical records at any time and to get a copy of these records. You can only be refused access to your records in limited situations. For example:

  • if the information held also involves information about someone else, and releasing the information to you would be an unjustified breach of the other person’s privacy, or
  • if giving the information would be likely to endanger any person’s safety.
    Can I be charged a fee for getting copies of health information?

Can I be charged a fee for getting copies of health information?

Health Information Privacy Code 2020, clause 6

Health professionals in the public sector can’t charge you for giving you your own health information.

Health professionals in the private sector usually can’t charge, but they can charge a reasonable fee in the following two situations:

  • for copies of X-rays, video recordings, MRI scan photographs, PET scan photographs, or CAT scan photographs, or
  • if you’ve already asked for the same, or substantially the same, information in the last 12 months.

How do I complain about a breach of the Health Information Privacy Code?

Health Information Privacy Code 1994, clause 7

You can complain about a breach of the Health Information Privacy Code to the particular health professional or organisation. Then, if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Privacy Commissioner, in the same way as breaches of the Privacy Act (see: “Privacy and information”).

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Disability rights

Where to go for more support

Community Law

Your local Community Law Centre can provide you with free initial legal advice.

Find your local Community Law Centre online: www.communitylaw.org.nz/our-law-centres

Auckland Disability Law (ADL) provides free legal services to disabled people associated with their disability related legal issues. ADL is the only specialist disability law community law centre in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Website: www.aucklanddisabilitylaw.org.nz/
Email: info@adl.org.nz
Phone:  09 257 5140
Text only: 027 457 5140

Disabled Persons Assembly

DPA is a pan-disability organisation run by and for disabled people. DPA and its members work with the wider disability community, other disabled persons’ organisations, government agencies, service providers, international disability organisations and the public.

Website: www.dpa.org.nz
Email: info@adl.org.nz
Phone:  04 801 9100
Facebook: www.facebook.com/dpa.nz.7

Nationwide Health & Disability Advocacy Service

The Nationwide Health & Disability Advocacy Service offers free, independent, and confidential advice to support you in resolving issues with health and disability services.

Website: www.advocacy.org.nz
Email: advocacy@advocacy.org.nz
Phone:  0800 555 050

Le Va

Le Va is working with Manatū Hauora/Ministry of Health to support Pasifika people with disabilities and their families.

Website: www.leva.co.nz/our-work/disability-support
Email: admin@leva.co.nz
Phone:  09 261 4390
Instagram: www.instagram.com/Levapasifika
Facebook:  www.facebook.com/LeVaPasifika

Te Rōpū Taurima

Te Rōpū Taurima is a kaupapa Māori service that supports people of all ethnicities with intellectual impairments around New Zealand.

Website: www.terooputaurima.org.nz
Email: info@terooputaurima.org.nz

People First New Zealand

People First New Zealand is a self-advocacy organisation that is led and directed by people with learning disabilities.

Website: www.peoplefirst.org.nz
Email: ask@peoplefirst.org.nz
Phone:  0800 20 60 70

Deaf Aotearoa

Deaf Aotearoa is a national organisation representing the voice of Deaf people, and the national service provider for Deaf people in New Zealand.

Website: www.deaf.org.nz
Email: hello@deaf.org.nz
Phone:  0800 33 23 22
Freetext:  8223
Instagram: www.instagram.com/DeafAotearoa
Facebook: www.facebook.com/deafaotearoanz

Blind Low Vision NZ (previously called Blind Foundation)

Blind Low Vision NZ is New Zealand’s main provider of support to New Zealanders who are blind or have low vision.

Website: www.blindlowvision.org.nz
Email: generalenquiries@blindlowvision.org.nz
Phone:  0800 24 33 33
Instagram: www.instagram.com/BlindLowVisionNZ
Facebook:  www.facebook.com/BlindLowVisionNZ

Sign Language video about the courts and justice



Achieve is a national network established to ensure equal opportunity and access to post-secondary education and training for people with impairments.

Website: www.achieve.org.nz
Email: info@achieve.org.nz
Phone:  03 479 8235

Inclusive Education

Inclusive Education provides New Zealand educators with practical strategies, suggestions and resources to support the diverse needs of all learners.

Website: www.inclusive.tki.org.nz
Email: inclusive@tki.org.nz

Government Agencies

Whaikaha/Ministry for Disabled

Whaikaha is the Ministry for Disabled People. On the website, it contains information about how to access support and funding and has a directory of advisory services.

Website: www.whaikaha.govt.nz
Email: contact@whaikaha.govt.nz
Phone:  0800 566 601
Text: 4206
Communication can also be made through NZ Relay Calls

Health and Disability Commissioner

The Health and Disability Commissioner website sets out your rights under the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights and how you can make a complaint to the Commissioner.

Website: www.hdc.org.nz
Email: hdc@hdc.org.nz
Phone:  0800 11 22 33

To make a complaint online: www.hdc.org.nz/making-a-complaint/make-a-complaint-to-hdc

Office for Disabled

The Office for Disabled is administered by a small team from Whaikaha, and works closely with government agencies and the disability sector to make the best decisions for disabled people.

Website: www.odi.govt.nz
Email: office_for_disability_issues@whaikaha.govt.nz
Phone:  0800 566 601

Ministry of Health Services and Support

Website: www.health.govt.nz/your-health/services-and-support

Te Kāhui Tika Tangata/Human Rights Commission

The Human Rights Commission website provides information about human rights in Aotearoa and outlines how you can make a complaint to the Commission about individual or systemic disability discrimination.

Website: www.tikatangata.org.nz/ or www.hrc.co.nz
Email: infoline@hrc.co.nz
Phone:  0800 496 877 (0800 4 YOUR RIGHTS)

To make a complaint online, download a complaint form or find out more about the complaints process: www.tikatangata.org.nz/resources-and-support/make-a-complaint

Privacy Commissioner

The Privacy Commissioner website provides information about your rights and responsibilities under the Privacy Act 2020 and the Privacy Principles. It also outlines the role of the Privacy Commissioner and how to make a privacy complaint.

Website: www.privacy.org.nz
Email: enquiries@privacy.org.nz
Phone:  0800 803 909

To make a complaint: www.privacy.org.nz/your-rights/making-a-complaint

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