Privacy Policy

While providing its service, the National Poisons Centre (NPC) will ask for some of your personal information to include in your medical record. This policy explains how NPC collects, uses, discloses, and stores your personal information.


When handling your information, NPC complies with the Privacy Act 1993 and the Health Information Privacy Code.


What personal information does the National Poisons Centre collect and hold?


Personal information collection may include your name, gender, date of birth, National Health Index (NHI) number, ethnicity, contact details, present location, and information about your medical history including symptoms, chronic conditions, medications, and other information required to provide you a telehealth service.


Why does the National Poisons Centre collect personal information?


The National Poisons Centre, like any other healthcare service, has an obligation to provide the best possible advice and care to the individuals seeking our services. Personal information about your age, gender, health status and medications enable NPC staff to make a better assessment of your situation and provide better risk and treatment advice. Personal information also allows NPC to match to previous records if you or one of your representatives has contacted us more than once – this can provide important historical and contextual information that shapes additional advice. There are times when NPC will refer you to another service provider for further care, and with your permission, NPC will assist in connecting you to that next provider and can pass along your personal information saving you from repeating your details. It could also happen that NPC may need to contact you again to update our advice or check on your condition.


Beyond matters affecting an individual’s care, NPC shares non-identifiable information with the Ministry of Health and other organisations so that broader public health issues may be identified and to inform the development of new services. Non-identifiable information means that NPC does not provide your name, NHI number, address, or telephone number as part of this information sharing. NPC works with universities and research organisations and may occasionally invite individuals using our service to take part in research. Decisions about whether to participate in research has no impact on the services NPC provides to anyone.


Lastly, in order to improve our service and ensure a high quality of performance, NPC will occasionally contact individuals for feedback.


If you choose not to provide any information about yourself, or only provide limited information, NPC will give you the best service we can using the information available. Anyone may choose to remain anonymous and will still be provided a service to the best of our ability.


How does the National Poisons Centre collect your personal information?


Personal information may be collected directly from you when you contact NPC through any form of communication including by phone, email, use of our website, or written correspondence. NPC may also collect information about you from a third party in situations where, for example, a family member or other person contacts us on your behalf. In this situation NPC will also collect the name and contact details of the person contacting us on your behalf. As part of our effort to ensure we have identified you correctly, NPC may look up and record your NHI number.


NPC captures audio recordings of most telephone calls it handles, and also creates an electronic medical record to document the information and advice discussed during an encounter. Recordings are valuable for many reasons, allowing NPC staff to:


  • Improve quality, training, and risk management processes
  • Capture information that could otherwise be missed during a contact with a person in crisis or high-risk situation; this allows us to listen back to a call to find essential information to ensure the caller’s or other’s safety
  • Focus on the caller and provide the support required in the situation


When will the National Poisons Centre disclose my personal information?


Whenever NPC discloses your personal information to third parties, all reasonable efforts are made to ensure only relevant information is shared, and that this information is as accurate, complete, and current as possible. NPC may disclose your personal information:


  • When required or compelled by law (including notifications to a medical officer of health for specific notifiable conditions)
  • When disclosing information will prevent or mitigate a serious threat to someone’s life, health, or safety
  • When disclosing information will prevent or mitigate a serious threat to public health or safety
  • In the event of a public health emergency when disclosure will aid governmental agency and health service response


How does the National Poisons Centre store my personal information?


The NPC has systems and procedures in place to protect your personal information from misuse and loss, from unauthorised access and modification, and from unauthorised disclosure. These include:


  • Secure storage of personal information in a Government-approved data centre
  • Data only being accessible by NPC staff providing services to you or in the course of carrying out service quality audits
  • All NPC staff sign a confidentiality agreement outlining their responsibilities upholding privacy standards and consequences of inappropriate actions


All records are retained for 10 years from the last time services were provided to an individual, which is a requirement of the Health (Retention of Health Information) Regulations 1996. If the information is no longer required by NPC for any purpose for which it was collected and is no longer required by law to be retained, it will either be de-identified or destroyed.


How can I obtain a copy of my information?


If you would like to see the personal information NPC has about you, you can request a copy of it by contacting us as described below. We must ensure that you are in fact the person whose information you are requesting and will ask for evidence to prove your identity before any information is provided.


Should you think that any of your personal information held by NPC is inaccurate or incomplete you can contact us as detailed below so your information can be updated. If, however, NPC refuses to correct or update your information you can request that it is noted in your record that you believe the information is inaccurate or incomplete.


How can I make a complaint?


If you have a privacy complaint or concern, please contact us as detailed below. NPC will acknowledge receipt of your contact within 3 business days and work to address the concern as promptly as possible.


Contact details


You may contact the National Poisons Centre using any of the methods below.






Phone:             0800 POISON (0800 764-766)

 Address:        National Poisons Centre

                          PO Box 56

                          Dunedin 9054



Policy last reviewed: December 2018