Mental health patient records are managed in a way that protects the individual’s privacy and confidentiality. Access to these records is governed by a range of legislation, including the Privacy Act 1988 (Commonwealth), the Freedom of Information Act 1992 (WA) and the Mental Health Act 2014 (WA).
There are two principal ways in which patients can access their own medical records:
- Using section 248 of the Mental Health Act 2014 (MHA 2014).
- Using the Freedom of Information (FOI) process.
Using section 248 of the MHA2014
Under section 248(1) of the MHA 2014, a person who is or was provided with treatment or care by a mental health service is entitled to inspect and be given a copy of any relevant document relating to their person. This includes the whole or any part of the person’s medical record.
However, this is subject to certain exceptions which are outlined in section 249 of the MHA 2014.
There are no costs involved for this process. All NMHS Mental Health clinicians, or other staff members, who receive a patient’s request under section 248 can help them direct the request to the officer who manages these inquiries.
Area FOI Coordinator
Area FOI Coordinator
Private Bag 1
CLAREMONT WA 6910
Royal Perth Hospital FOI Coordinator
RPH FOI Coordinator
PO Box X2213
Perth WA 6847
Contact the relevant hospital:
Using the FOI process
The Western Australian Freedom of Information Act 1992 (the FOI Act) gives patients the right to apply for access to documents held by State Public Sector agencies. Documents may include written material (e.g. medical records), plans and drawings, photographs, tape recordings, films, videotapes, or information stored in a computerised form.
Both patients and other individuals can use FOI request access to documents. There may be a small charge involved if the records are for another person. When lodging your application, please advise the FOI Coordinator if you are financially disadvantaged, i.e. a holder of an Australian Health Care Card or Concessions Card, as you may be entitled to have charges reduced or waived.
Please be aware that under the FOI Act, particular types of documents and information are exempt from disclosure. These exclusions are outlined in Schedule 1 of the FOI Act.
If the documents for which you have applied contain exempt information, the agency may still be able to give you a copy, but with the exempt information deleted or obscured. If you are refused access or only given partial access to the documents, the agency will explain the reason(s) why particular documents or parts of documents cannot be released. If you have requested amendments to your personal information, the agency must also give you written notice of its decision.
How do I make an FOI application?
Your application has to:
- Be in writing (please use the forms below)
- Include an Australian postal address and where possible, a contact telephone number
- Have attached a certified copy of two forms of your identification, one with a current signature
- Give enough detail to identify the requested documents; or if you apply for amendment of your personal information about yourself, you must provide details to show how or why the agency’s records are inaccurate, incomplete, out of date or misleading
- Be lodged with the FOI Coordinator, North Metropolitan Health Service Mental Health.
How long will it take?
Once the agency receives a valid application, it will be dealt with as soon as practicable, but in any event within 45 days. Within that time, the agency will give you a written notice of its decision on your access request.
Freedom of Information Coordinator
Mt Claremont WA 6010
Private Bag No 1
Claremont WA 6910
Telephone: (08) 6159 6475 or (08) 6159 6898
Facsimile: (08) 9385 2011