Agency Information Guide

Agency Information Guide under the Medical Council's mandatory open access information (section 20 GIPA Act)

AGENCY INFORMATION GUIDE

Introduction
On 1 July 2010, new right to information legislation came into effect, the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act), replacing the former freedom of information law.

The new law:

  • creates new rights to information that are designed to meet community expectations of more open and transparent government;
  • encourages government agencies to proactively release government information.

You can find out more about your right to information and new ways to access NSW government information on the Office of the Information Commissioner website: www.oic.nsw.gov.au phone: 1800 463 626 or GPO Box 7011, Sydney NSW 2001.

The Medical Council of New South Wales is committed to openness with regard to its information and is a public authority that is required to comply with GIPA obligations.

Details of the Council's structure and functions, and the kind of information it holds and how it may be accessed are contained in this Agency Information Guide.

Council's Agency Information Guide
This Agency Information Guide tells you in general terms:

  • what our structure and functions are;
  • what kind of information we have;
  • what kind of information we will make available to the public;
  • how that information will be made available;
  • whether or not there is a charge to access specific kinds of information.

Our Structure and Functions
The purpose of the Medical Council is to act in the interests of the public by ensuring that registered medical practitioners are fit to practise medicine and medical students are fit to have contact with members of the public whilst they undertake approved programs of study. It manages a range of programs, services and procedures to achieve this purpose. As a result, members of the public can be reassured that registered practitioners are required to maintain proper and appropriate standards of conduct and professional performance.

Information on the current structure and functions of the Council is available on the Council's website: www.mcnsw.org.au/page/about-us/

The Council and the Health Care Complaints Commission (which is a separate statutory authority to the Council) are jointly responsible as co-regulators for ensuring that mechanisms are provided for assessing and dealing with complaints and notifications about medical practitioners' performance, conduct and health.

What kind of information do we have?
Information is contained in the following documents held by the Council:

  • medical practitioners' files
  • policy documents including Memoranda and Circulars
  • documents concerning internal administration of the Council
  • documents concerning appointments to various official positions.

In addition, Council also maintains the following categories of documents:

  • official records of Council and Council's Committees
  • documents prepared for submission to Council's executive
  • deliberations or advice of Council's executive
  • correspondence with other Government agencies
  • correspondence with Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency
  • correspondence with overseas registration authorities
  • correspondence with members of the public
  • correspondence with ministers and other members of parliament
  • internal working papers of Council
  • documents associated with the preparation of draft legislation.

What kind of information is made available to the public, and how?

Open access information

The Council makes available, free of charge on this website, the following "open access information"

Other pro-actively released information

In addition, the Council pro-actively makes available, free of charge or via this website, a large range of additional information, including the following:

  • Publications, Newsletters, statements, notices and bulletins
  • Links to codes of conduct, policies and guidelines published by the Medical Board of Australia
  • Policies and guidelines published by the Medical Council of NSW
  • Links to the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (NSW) and other relevant legislation and regulations
  • Disciplinary hearings, Information about Medical Tribunal and Professional Standards Committee hearings, including hearing listings and attendance guidelines
  • Emergency Hearings Information for section 150 proceedings
  • The Council's Impaired Registrants (Health) Program
  • The Council's program for assessing professional performance
  • Published decisions of the NSW Medical Tribunal, Professional Standards Committees, and relevant Court decisions
  • Link to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) website and its Register of Medical Practitioners.

Information available on informal request

A request may be made at any time for other information held by the Council. While the Council reserves the right to require a formal access application to be made, the Council will generally provide the following types of information in response to an informal request, without the need to make formal access application, provided the disclosure meets the requirements of confidentiality provisions that exist in the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (NSW).

  • copies of correspondence, where the person requesting the correspondence was the person who sent it to the Council;
  • documents that contain only personal information about a particular individual, and that is the person who is requesting the information;
  • documents that have already been made public in some way
  • other reasonable requests for information, the release of which would not raise any potential concerns in terms of public interest considerations against disclosure.

The Council may release the information in response to an informal request subject to any reasonable conditions that the Council thinks fit to impose.

Information available in response to an access application

An access application may be made for all other information held by the Council (other than certain "excluded information", set out below).

Access applications are subject to application fees and processing charges in accordance with the Governmnent Information (Public Access) Act 2009.

Information that is not available in response to an access application

Some information is excluded information under the Government Information (Public Access) Act, for example the complaint handling and investigative functions conferred by or under any specific Act. A valid access application cannot be made for such information held by the Council.

Although an access application may be made for all other information held by the Council, the Council will not release information if there is an overriding public interest against the disclosure of the information.

Some of the particular information that the Council cannot release in response to an access application includes:

  • information under the Health Care Complaints Act 1993 (as defined in item 1 of Schedule 1 of the GIPA Act);
  • information about the Health Care Complaints Commission's complaint handling, investigative, complaints resolution and reporting functions, including any functions exercised by the Health Conciliation Registry and any function concerning information to a registration authority or professional council (within the meaning of the Health Care Complaints Act 1993 relating to a particular complaint (as defined in item 2 of Schedule 2 of the GIPA Act);

Otherwise, the Council will release information in response to a valid access application, subject to an overriding public interest against that disclosure.

Whenever the Council decides that particular "open access information" should not be publicly available, a record of the decision is made.

Further information

The Council's Right to Information Officers (RIOs) are able to assist members of the public to obtain more details about access to government information. RIOs can be contacted via our website www.mcnsw.org.au or by phone 9879 2200.