Minister for Health Brad Hazzard.

Minister for Health Brad Hazzard.

An investigation has been launched into another embarrassing bungle involving New South Wales hospitals with more than a thousand sensitive patient records found in a garbage bin.

The letters, believed to be follow up correspondence between specialists and GPs, were found by a member of the public in a communal recycling bin at an Ashfield apartment block.

9NEWS understands Global Transcription Services, the company who transcribed the letters, used an individual subcontractor who was supposed to post them out.

The process involved that person sitting at home and physically putting the letters in envelopes, stamping them, and then taking them to the post box.

Police were called on April 11 after the letters were found in the bin and they were referred to NSW Health. 

The letters relate to 768 public patients at Royal North Shore Outpatient Clinics, Gosford Hospital Outpatients and Cancer Centre and Dubbo Hospital Cancer Centre.

Patients at six private facilities were also affected including Chris O'Brien Lifehouse and Northern Cancer Institute.

Minister for Health Brad Hazzard said he called bureaucrats in on Good Friday to ensure patient treatment plans had not been compromised but concedes treatment could have been delayed.

“I’ve directed the department to do a full independent review. I want to be satisfied we are doing everything to reduce human error,” Mr Hazzard said.

NSW Health said it's confident no immediate clinical intervention is needed.

It's understood the subcontractor suffered mental health issues and KPMG is conducting a review of the process.

Mr Hazzard said he believes the process of physically mailing such sensitive information is archaic.

© Nine Digital Pty Ltd 2017


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