A privacy breach, which has seen the unauthorised release of confidential birth and death details of over 24,000 Kiwis, has been branded “inexcusable” by the Labour Party.
As reported by the New Zealand Herald; officials are investigating how a spreadsheet of National Health Index (NHI) numbers, containing the birth and death dates of 24,092 people, was emailed to around 950 pharmacists yesterday morning. The email was supposed to be sent internally.
Following the revelations, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King has claimed the Ministry of Health’s blunder, “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,” King claims.
“This data was particularly sensitive. Its release would be hugely distressing to relatives and loved ones.”
King says 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,” King adds.
“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.”