The Auckland District Health Board is refusing to release clinical notes to a mental health patient - and has told her to go to the Privacy Commission if she wants them.

The patient, who attempted suicide following an alleged rape at the Auckland Hospital mental health unit, wanted the notes to help with her appeal after her enrolment at the University of Auckland was terminated.

She came to New Zealand in 2015 from China as an international student and was pursuing a double degree in health science and science.

In December, she was told by the vice-chancellor that her enrolment was terminated because she "did not promptly inform the International Office" about her state of mental health following her suicide attempt.

The student says she wants to know exactly what has been said about her condition in her clinical files. Photo / Jason Oxenham
The student says she wants to know exactly what has been said about her condition in her clinical files. Photo / Jason Oxenham

The student, who cannot be named, is appealing the termination and wanted the clinical notes because the university claimed it had cancelled her enrolment upon the advice of her medical team.

An ADHB spokeswoman confirmed the board would not be releasing the notes to her for health and safety reasons.

"Firstly, we acknowledge the distress of this person. However, there are potential consequences for the health and safety of someone with a mental illness if their experience is publicised, which are recognised in the privacy legislation," the spokeswoman said.

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"Our obligation is to the safety and wellbeing of our patients and we take this extremely seriously.

"In this case, based on the privacy legislation, it was appropriate that we decline to release this person's clinical notes but we have suggested they discuss this with the Privacy Commissioner."

Meanwhile, the University of Auckland has sent a note to its staff defending its action in terminating the student's enrolment.

It pointed to media reports claiming that the university had "inappropriately and unkindly terminated the enrolment of an international student for breaching her enrolment conditions after significant personal trauma".


"Despite the speculation on social media, the student's enrolment was terminated because of explicit advice from her own medical team that she was at high risk if she continued to study in New Zealand," the note said.

"Our decision followed meetings and discussions with the student's medical team and her family as part of the extensive pastoral care that has been provided to her over the past four years."

The note said it was very rare for the university to terminate a student's enrolment and was contemplated only in exceptional circumstances such as this.

When approached by the Herald, a spokeswoman for the university said: "We stand by the statement and won't be commenting further at this stage."

The student said ADHB's refusal to release her clinical notes was adding to her distress.

She said she was in the process of making a formal complaint against the ADHB and also take the matter to the Privacy Commission.


"We really want to know what exactly are in the records," she said.

"ADHB is just making things much more difficult for me, my family and my support person."

She has also filed an appeal with the university against her termination after finding out she would not be able to get her credits transferred to universities in Australia.

"My family wants me to finish my final year and get the degree. They have asked me to be more realistic. My primary goal is to continue to study in Auckland," she said.