There has been a serious breach of privacy from Canberra Health Services staff who illegally shared patient records over "a period of years" with multiple people outside the organisation.
This information was shared without the express consent of patients and was shared with people who were involved with an "industrial partner" of Canberra Health Services.
This is an alarming situation and Canberra Health Services chief executive Dave Peffer said patients had been let down.
The situation was brought to light on Tuesday morning following a leaked email from Mr Peffer which was sent to staff two weeks ago.
Who was the information shared with?
The information was sent to an "industry partner" but there is little information about who this partner is or what type of organisation this is. Minister for Mental Health Emma Davidson only confirmed it was not a health fund when she was asked by ABC radio on Tuesday morning.
"That is the subject of a police investigation so I can't talk further about that but I know that CHS have done everything they can to make sure we are protecting patient privacy and this can't continue to happen," she said.
What sort of information was shared and how many patients were affected?
The information was shared by those working within mental health at Canberra Health Services.
Mr Peffer's email said the information that was shared included "whole clinical records", he said this included records scanned from hard copies.
There were 13 patients affected by the breach.
What has happened with the staff who shared the information?
The Minister for Mental Health did not directly say whether or not the staff were still employed by Canberra Health Services, she only said that procedures had been followed which were in place for when breaches like this occur.
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"I can't talk about the details of what is happening there but we have made sure that patient privacy is protected and that those situations can't continue," Ms Davidson said.
"Our main concern is making sure that patient privacy is protected and patients can continue to receive quality health care and continue to have their rights protected so we're doing everything that needs to be done to make sure that happens. That sometimes does include making sure that a staff member who may have breached privacy is not in a position to be able to do that again."
Authorities have not said the exact number of staff involved but have emphasised it was only a "small number".
When was this discovered?
The breach was discovered by health authorities in recent weeks. Mr Peffer wrote to staff about the breach in an all staff email sent on March 6.
It then took another two weeks for this to be made public after this email was leaked. Ms Davidson was forced to respond to the revelations on Tuesday morning but opposition health spokeswoman Leanne Castley has questioned why the government did not reveal this to the wider public sooner.
"This is a very serious matter and I am stunned that the minister has not made Canberrans aware of this issue," Ms Castley said.
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