Promotion of Access to Information Act: key issues for occupational therapists.

Matty Van Niekerk



Introduction: Increasingly, healthcare practice, including occupational therapy, is influenced by non-medical legislation, such as the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA), which regulates the right to access information held by others. While the PAIA does not intend to limit existing access to information rights, such as a patient’s right to access their health information in terms of the National Health Act, the PAIA does provide better clarity regarding access to patients’ information than health-related legislation and policies, including those of the Health Professions Council of South Africa.

Method: Using normative analysis of a desktop review of relevant legislation, case law and literature, this paper aims to provide guidance to occupational therapists about patients’ right to access their information in terms of five themes:

Theme 1: What is the difference between a public and a private body?

Theme 2: Who may request access to information?

Theme 3: Is there a prescribed process to be followed when requesting access to information?

Theme 4: What is the nature of information to which access is granted?

Theme 5: Are there any circumstances under which access may reasonably be refused?

Conclusion: The paper concludes that, while existing health-related legislation and policies already provide the right to access to information, application of specific guidance from the PAIA e.g., using prescribed forms to request access, could serve to better protect patients’ and practitioners’ interests alike.

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ISSN 0038-2337 (print), ISSN 2310-3833 (online)

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