The father of the man who killed a fellow patient at Shellharbour Hospital's mental health unit in 2014 has been denied access to his son's health records.
Dr Michael Hindmarsh had sought to gain full access to a report by the acting NSW Chief Psychiatrist on a review conducted on August 4, 2014, at Eloura West Observation Unit.
Just days before - on July 31, 2014 - Dr Hindmarsh's son Paul Hindmarsh had fatally assaulted the patient he shared a room with, Joseph Gumley, with the dead man's own electric guitar.
Hindmarsh was found not guilty of murder due to mental illness in February 2016, but was detained under mental health legislation.
In the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal this month, Dr Hindmarsh sought to have a review of a decision by the Ministry of Health to release only part of the report - with sections redacted.
In its reasons for upholding the ministry's decision not to hand over the full report, the tribunal conceded that there was some public interest in the report being released as it shed light on practices for dealing with patients in mental health facilities.
However the tribunal ruled that in this case the patient's right to privacy overrode that public interest, noting that Paul Hindmarsh had told his psychiatrist he did not want his father to have access to his personal health information.
"Understandably, Dr Hindmarsh is very upset by the circumstances which led his son to, in his words, become a murderer," the senior tribunal member stated.
"Dr Hindmarsh is seeking information relevant to the care and treatment of his son prior to the incident in order to understand what triggered his son’s behaviour.
"Dr Hindmarsh is also seeking access to the information as he wishes to bring legal action against those whom he believes are responsible for what occurred."
The tribunal heard the redacted information in the report related to Paul, his mother and Mr Gumley. However Dr Hindmarsh clarified that he was only seeking access to the information concerning drugs prescribed for, or administered to, his son.
However Paul Hindmarsh’s psychiatrist Dr Reece Anderson told the hearing that while his client had a chronic mental illness (schizophrenia), he had the capacity to give consent. He stated that Hindmarsh freely communicated to him his wish that his father not be provided with his personal health information.
"I agree with Dr Hindmarsh that there is considerable public benefit in understanding how the state funded health system operates and how patients are treated," the senior tribunal member stated.
However in conclusion: "I am of the view that, on balance, the public interest considerations in favour of disclosure do not outweigh the considerations against disclosure."