Privacy Policy Overview

How Alstonville Clinic protects your privacy

How Alstonville Clinic protects your privacy


To ensure patients who receive care from the Practice are comfortable in entrusting their health information to the Practice. This policy provides information to patients as to how their personal information (which includes their health information) is collected and used within the Practice, and the circumstances in which we may disclose it to third parties.

Related standards

RACGP Compliance indicators for the Australian Privacy Principles (APP): an addendum to the computer and information security standards (Second edition).

Background and rationale

The APP provide a privacy protection framework that supports the rights and obligations of collecting, holding, using, accessing, and correcting personal information. The APP consist of 13 principle-based laws and apply equally to paper-based and digital environments. The APP complement the long-standing general practice obligation to manage personal information in a regulated, open, and transparent manner.

This policy will guide Practice staff in meeting these legal obligations. It also details to patients how the Practice uses their personal information. The policy must be made available to patients upon request.

Practice procedure

The Practice will:
• provide a copy of this policy upon request
• ensure staff comply with the APP and deal appropriately with inquiries or concerns
• take such steps as are reasonable in the circumstances to implement practices, procedures, and systems to ensure compliance with the APP and deal with inquiries or complaints
• collect personal information for the primary purpose of managing a patient’s healthcare and for financial claims and payments.

Staff responsibility

The Practice’s staff will take reasonable steps to ensure patients understand:
• what information has been and is being collected
• why the information is being collected, and whether this is due to a legal requirement
• how the information will be used or disclosed
• why and when their consent is necessary
• the Practice’s procedures for access and correction of information, and responding to complaints of information breaches, including by providing this policy.

Patient consent

The Practice will only interpret and apply a patient’s consent for the primary purpose for which it was provided. The Practice staff must seek additional consent from the patient if the personal information collected may be used for any other purpose.


Managing patient health information

Collection of information

The Practice will need to collect personal information as a provision of clinical services to a patient at the practice. Collected personal information will include patients’:
• names, addresses, and contact details
• Medicare number (where available) (for identification and claiming purposes)
• healthcare identifiers
• medical information including medical history, medications, allergies, adverse events, immunisations, mask exemptions, social history, family history and risk factors
• health fund details.

A patient’s personal information may be held at the Practice in various forms:
• as paper records
• as electronic records
• as visual – x-rays, CT scans, videos, and photos
• as audio recordings.

The Practice’s procedure for collecting personal information is set out below.

1. Practice staff collect patients’ personal and demographic information via registration when patients present to the Practice for the first time. Patients are encouraged to pay attention to the collection statement attached to/within the registration form and information about the management of collected information and patient privacy.
2. During the provision of medical services, the Practice’s healthcare practitioners will consequently collect further personal information.
3. Personal information may also be collected from the patient’s guardian or responsible person (where practicable and necessary), or from any other involved healthcare specialists.

The Practice holds all personal information securely, whether in electronic format, in protected information systems or in hard copy format in a secured environment.

Use and disclosure of information

Personal information will only be used for the purpose of providing medical services and for claims and payments, unless otherwise consented to. Some disclosure may occur to third parties engaged by or
for the Practice for business purposes, such as accreditation or for the provision of information technology. These third parties are required to comply with this policy. The Practice will inform the patient where there is a statutory requirement to disclose certain personal information (for example, some diseases require mandatory notification).

The Practice will not disclose personal information to any third party other than while providing medical services, without full disclosure to the patient or the recipient, the reason for the information transfer and full consent from the patient. The Practice will not disclose personal information to anyone outside Australia without need and without patient consent.

Exceptions to disclose without patient consent are where the information is:
• required by law
• necessary to lessen or prevent a serious threat to a patient’s life, health or safety or public health or safety, or it is impractical to obtain the patient’s consent
• to assist in locating a missing person
• to establish, exercise or defend an equitable claim
• for the purpose of a confidential dispute resolution process.

The Practice will not use any personal information in relation to direct marketing to a patient without that patient’s express consent. Patients may opt-out of direct marketing at any time by notifying the Practice in a letter or email.

The Practice evaluates all unsolicited information it receives to decide if it should be kept, acted on or destroyed.

Access, corrections, and privacy concerns

The Practice acknowledges patients may request access to their medical records. Patients should make all requests in writing, stating the reason access is being sought and any relevant time constraints, to enable the Practice to respond within a reasonable timeframe. The Practice aims to respond in writing within thirty (30) days from the receipt of the request.

All requests for access will be scanned into the patient’s file.

1) Write or email a letter to their own doctor requesting a half hour appointment to view their records.
2) Advise any relevant time constraints.
3) The Doctor will review their request and arrange an appointment.
4) The Receptionist will contact the patient to advise the appointment time.

The Practice will take reasonable steps to correct personal information where it is satisfied it is not accurate or up to date. From time to time, the Practice will ask patients to verify the personal information held by the Practice is correct and up to date. Patients may also request the Practice corrects or updates their information, and patients should make such requests in writing to the Practice Manager, or to their usual GP

Any requests for access to family members’ or other people’s records must be accompanied by evidence of the proper legal authority to do so. After a patient dies, the Practice continues to have a duty of confidentiality for their medical records.

Disposal of medical records

Most medical records are held in electronic format in this Practice. The Practice will retain relevant hard copy medical records for patients aged 18 years and over for a minimum of seven (7) years from the date of the last entry in the clinical file. Hard copy records for children under 18 years of age will be retained until they reach the age of 25 years as a minimum.

A secure disposal service will be utilised for the destruction and disposal of all patient records.


The Practice takes complaints and concerns about the privacy of patients’ personal information seriously. Patients should express any privacy concerns in writing. The Practice will then attempt to resolve it in accordance with its complaint resolution procedure. Any correspondence should be addressed to the Practice Manager via mail, telephone, or email.

Attn: Practice Manager
Alstonville Clinic
61 Main St
Alstonville NSW 2477
P: (02) 6628 0505