Friday, 6 September 2019

Questions (1192)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

1192. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Health the safeguards in place to protect the identity of persons who make a protected disclosure in instances in which the protected disclosures are shared with external consultants; if the person who made the protected disclosure is notified in advance; if his or her consent is required in order to share the disclosure with external consultants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36203/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

Section 16 (1) of the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 provides that a person to whom a protected disclosure is made, and any person to whom a protected disclosure is referred in the performance of that person’s duties, shall not disclose to another person any information that might identify the person by whom the protected disclosure was made.

This does not apply however, where:

(a) the person to whom the protected disclosure was made or referred shows that he or she took all reasonable steps to avoid so disclosing any such information,

(b) the person to whom the protected disclosure was made or referred reasonably believes that the person by whom the protected disclosure was made does not object to the disclosure of any such information,

(c) the person to whom the protected disclosure was made or referred reasonably believes that disclosing any such information is necessary for—

(i) the effective investigation of the relevant wrongdoing concerned,

(ii) the prevention of serious risk to the security of the State, public health, public safety or the environment, or

(iii) the prevention of crime or prosecution of a criminal offence,

or

(d) the disclosure is otherwise necessary in the public interest or is required by law.

Notwithstanding this, the Department of Public Expenditure’s Guidance recommends that the discloser should be afforded the opportunity to give his/her consent to the information provided in the disclosure being shared with a third party.

My Department’s Policy and Procedures provides that where action is to be taken following a disclosure, except in exceptional cases, the disclosure recipient should contact the discloser and, where possible, gain the informed consent of the discloser, prior to any action being taken that could identify the discloser.

Where it is decided that it is necessary to disclose information that may or will disclose the identity of the discloser, the discloser should be informed of this decision, except in exceptional cases. The discloser may request a review of this decision and a review should be carried out, where practicable.