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

Privacy and your health information

Hcan only give the information to people who can do something about the threat.

Right to access medical files

Health Information Privacy Code 1994, clause 5, rule 6

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 1993.

Rules about collecting health information

Health Information Privacy Code 1994, 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 1994, 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 1994, 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?

Health Information Privacy Code 1994, 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. (For information about complaining to the Privacy Commissioner, see the chapter “Privacy and information“.)

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Disability rights

Where to go for more support

COVID-19 information


The Disabled Persons Assembly (DPA) has up-to-date COVID-19 information for the disabled community on their website. They also post new information on their Facebook page and their Information Exchange newsletter. You can sign up by going to the website linked above. For more information about DPA, see below.

Community Law


Your local Community Law Centre can provide free initial legal advice and information.

Auckland Disability Law



ADL provides assistance and referrals to disabled people on their legal issues, and work with other Community Law Centres, legal professionals and community organisations to raise disability awareness and achieve the best outcome for disabled people.

Office for Disability Issues


The Office for Disability Issues is the focal point in government on disability issues.

Human Rights Commission


This page on the HRC website focuses on the Commission’s work around both individual and systemic disability discrimination. There are resources available in multiple accessible formats.

Health and Disability Commissioner


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

The Health and Disability Commissioner has a range of pamphlets and other information on health and disability issues.

Contact a Health and Disability Advocate

Phone: 0800 555 050

Make a complaint to the Commissioner

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

PO Box 1791, Auckland

You can make a complaint by phoning the Commissioner’s office toll-free, by email, by filling in the online complaint form or by writing to them.

Ministry of Health Services and Support


Publicly funded health and disability services available in New Zealand.

Disabled Persons Assembly


The DPA is a pan-disability organisation. DPA works to improve social indicators for disabled people and for disabled people be recognised as valued members of society. DPA and its members work with the wider disability community, other disabled persons’ organisations, government agencies, service providers, international disability organisations and the public.

People First


People First New Zealand is a self-advocacy organisation that is led and directed by people with learning (intellectual) disability. People First has a free Disability Information and Advice Service and they also produce legal resources in Easy Read form which are free to download from their website.

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.

Deaf Aotearoa also works closely with Deaf communities, government agencies and other organisations to increase awareness, promote New Zealand Sign Language and strengthen the rights of Deaf people.

Family Violence – It’s Not OK


Phone: 0800 456 450

“It’s not OK” is a community-driven behaviour change campaign to reduce family violence in New Zealand. Its goal is to change attitudes and behaviour that tolerate any kind of family violence. The website has resources for families who are experiencing abuse. It’s not OK is an initiative housed within the Ministry of Social Development.

Family violence and disabled people


Inclusive Education


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

Attitude Toolbox: The Whole Truth about Courts and Justice


This accessible video has information about the New Zealand justice system and courts. The video is presented in New Zealand Sign Language and fully subtitled in English.

New Zealand Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal


This Tribunal hears and determines disciplinary proceedings brought against health practitioners.

Public Trust


Public Trust is New Zealand’s largest provider of Wills and estate administration services.

Te Rōpū Taurima


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

Le Va


Le Va supports Pasifika families and communities to unleash their full potential and have the best possible health and wellbeing outcomes.

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.



Phone: 0800 24 33 33

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

Privacy Commissioner


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

You can download the pamphlet “Your Health Information: Know Your Privacy Rights” from the Privacy Commissioner’s website, at: www.privacy.org.nz

You can also download a copy of the Health Information Privacy Code from: www.privacy.org.nz/the-privacy-act-and-codes/codes-of-practice/health-information-privacy-code-1994

Also available as a book

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