1 Dec 2023

Health NZ staff member investigated for Covid-19 misinformation

5:57 pm on 1 December 2023
generic hospital ward

File photo. Photo: befunky.com

Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand is investigating a staff member accused of spreading Covid-19 misinformation using its data.

RNZ understands the man was interviewed on a New Zealand conspiracy theory site yesterday.

He said he developed a database for the vaccine rollout and quoted data from that work.

Te Whatu Ora chief executive Margie Apa issued a statement today saying a staff member, with no clinical background or expertise, had been spreading misinformation.

"What he is claiming is completely wrong and ill-informed and his comments demonstrate this," she said.

Apa said the man had used the health agency's data and his access to any IT systems has been blocked.

Apa said the man was an administrator with no clinical experience or expertise and was using the data wrongly.

"It is extremely disappointing to see a staff member trying to misuse our data to spread misinformation. He is no longer at work and an employment investigation is under way," she said.

"We take the security of the information we hold extremely seriously, and this is a significant breach of trust. We are considering the privacy implications related to the staff member's actions."

Te Whata Ora is looking into whether there has been a privacy breach and Apa said the organisation would be working with the police on the matter.

Apa said the man had used Te Whatu Ora data that was not available to the public and it was looking into whether there had been a privacy breach.

"He has really breached the trust of New Zealanders who have given us this information to work with and he has essentially stolen it and is using it to spread misinformation," she said.

The man had been employed since the inception of Te Whatu Ora last year, as the agency was formed out of district health boards and other health bodies, she said.

"What is disappointing for us is that this is someone who up until this action was a part of the team and he has very much let down his colleagues, so this is a surprise to us," she said.

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