30 Nov 2010

Doctor before human rights tribunal

9:12 pm on 30 November 2010

A Southland doctor appeared before the Human Rights Review Tribunal in Invercargill on Tuesday over his disclosure of information about a rest home worker.

Dr Robert Henderson was taken to the Privacy Commissioner seven years ago after telling the worker's employer that she was on the methadone programme and he was concerned she might have access to drugs at her workplace.

The case was referred to the tribunal earlier this year after the High Court found the Privacy Commissioner wrongly ruled against Dr Henderson.

The Human Rights Commission's director of human rights proceedings, Robert Hesketh, requested that Dr Henderson settle the matter by paying the woman $5000, but he refused.

The woman did not lose her job because of the disclosure but is claiming humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to her feelings. Her name and that of the rest home have been suppressed.

It is alleged that in 2003 Dr Henderson disclosed the woman's health details to the rest home's manager without her permission.

Dr Henderson says he was concerned after the woman presented at the Invercargill Urgent Doctor Service seeking pain medication.

But the woman said she was not seeking drugs and her employer said they had no concerns about her having access to drugs because her role in the rest home did not allow her to do so.

Dr Henderson said he was simply protecting the elderly in her care.

The tribunal's decision will be reserved.