A NSW Government website

Privacy and security

NSW Health takes the protection of health privacy and personal information seriously. This page contains information about what data is recorded in SafeScript NSW, who can access it, how your privacy is protected and how to make a privacy complaint.

What information is collected in SafeScript NSW

When a prescriber issues a prescription or a pharmacist dispenses a medicine to you, specific information is recorded. SafeScript NSW will only collect this information when it relates to a certain high-risk medicine, also known as a monitored medicine.

The information collected includes your:

  • name
  • address
  • details of monitored medicines supplied (name, strength, quantity)
  • prescriber and pharmacy details.

The information in the database does not include:

  • other medical notes
  • information about medicines supplied to you that are not on the monitored medicines list.

How your privacy is protected

Your personal and health information is protected by law. NSW and Commonwealth laws are based on the following privacy principles:

  • your personal information can only be collected, used and disclosed for authorised purposes
  • your personal information is stored securely
  • you are provided with clear information about what personal information is held about you and how you might go about getting access to it or requesting that it be corrected where necessary.

In addition to these existing laws, there is a penalty under the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Regulation 2008 for unlawfully accessing, using or disclosing information held in SafeScript NSW.

SafeScript NSW records information about who accesses the system, when they access the system and which records they view. This information will be used by the Ministry of Health to monitor access to ensure that it is being used appropriately. If inappropriate use by a health practitioner is detected, penalties may apply under NSW law and the matter may also be referred to a Health Professional Council for investigation and possible disciplinary action.

Who has access to your records held in SafeScript NSW

A prescriber or pharmacist is permitted to view your record in SafeScript NSW in the following circumstances:

  • when prescribing or supplying a monitored medicine to you
  • when reviewing your monitored medicine history as part of a consultation (e.g. when a doctor takes your history or a pharmacist conducts a medication review for you)
  • when discussing your monitored medicine history with other registered health practitioners who are involved in your care.

Authorised Ministry of Health officers also access SafeScript NSW as part of their regulatory role in ensuring the safe supply of medicines in the community.

Information held in SafeScript NSW may be disclosed outside the Ministry of Health but only in circumstances that are permitted under law. Examples of where the release of information may be permitted include where:

  • the person to whom the information relates consents to the release
  • it is for the purposes of legal proceedings (e.g. court order or subpoena)
  • it is for health services and authorised parties to help prevent a serious and imminent threat to someone’s life, their health or welfare
  • it is for an investigative agency where it is reasonably necessary to the complaint handling or investigation functions of the agency
  • it is for researchers for public interest research projects where release of de-identified data has been approved by a Human Research Ethics Committee and where there is a lawful basis to do so. Population health research is undertaken using de-identified data. The Centre for Health Record Linkage facilitates access to de-identified data using a data linkage approach that complies with all ethical, legal, privacy and confidentiality requirements.

How your records are kept secure

SafeScript NSW uses contemporary security measures to safeguard your information. Strong data encryption mechanisms are used to protect your personal health information during data transmission from medical practice systems and pharmacy dispensing systems to SafeScript NSW and when your data is stored. The SafeScript NSW data is kept in a dedicated hosting environment in Australia.

Advanced access control mechanisms are in place to prevent unauthorised access. Health practitioners eligible to access SafeScript NSW will be required to use multi-factor authentication (a username/password + PIN) to access the system. The security of the system is routinely tested and reviewed to ensure data stored in SafeScript NSW remains protected.

How you can access information held in SafeScript NSW

You or your authorised representative are entitled to request information held about you in SafeScript NSW. To make a request, email safescript@health.nsw.gov.au.

Requests for access to information will be responded to as soon as possible, or in most cases no later than 28 days.  Access may be declined in special circumstances, such as where giving access would put you or another person at risk of mental or physical harm.

How you can correct a record in SafeScript NSW

The SafeScript NSW database is a read-only system that contains a copy of information that is held in your prescriber’s or pharmacist’s clinical system. SafeScript NSW does not alter records that are created in the source medical or pharmacy systems. However, if you believe there is an error in a record, you can request an amendment by emailing safescript@health.nsw.gov.au.

In many cases an error or omission is likely to be due to an error by your prescriber or pharmacist. You can make a request directly to your prescriber or pharmacist to review their records. When they make a change in their clinical system, the information will be automatically updated in SafeScript NSW.

How to make a privacy complaint

You can make a complaint to the Privacy Officer, Ministry of Health about how your personal and/or health information has been handled in SafeScript NSW. The complaint must be made in writing to:

Privacy Officer
NSW Ministry of Heath
Locked Bag 2030
St Leonards NSW 1590

For more information about making a complaint, contact the Privacy Officer by email: MOH-Privacy@health.nsw.gov.au.