Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has bowed to mounting public pressure over privacy concerns and agreed to redraft legislation the My Health Record legislation.
Mr Hunt late Tuesday night announced the My Health Record Act will be changed to deny police access to patient data without a court order, bringing it in line with the existing Australian Digital Health Agency policy.
“This policy requires a court order to release any My Health Record information without consent,” he said in a statement.
“The amendment will ensure no record can be released to police or government agencies, for any purpose, without a court order.”
Mr Hunt said no documents have been released in more than six years under the Agency’s policy and no documents will be released without a court order.
“This change to the My Health Record Act will therefore remove any ambiguity on this matter,” he said.
“In addition, the government will also amend Labor’s 2012 legislation to ensure if someone wishes to cancel their record they will be able to do so permanently, with their record deleted from the system.”
The changes come after talks with the Australian Medical Association and Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.
The changes will be made “as soon as possible”.
Mr Hunt said the government will continue to advocate to the public about the benefits of the digital health record system.
AMA President Tony Bartone told Fairfax Media he held a “frank and constructive discussion” with Mr Hunt and welcomed the Minister’s decision.
“In addition, we’ve also impressed upon the Minister that there’s a need to have some clear air, to ensure that the community has time to fully understand what is a My Health Record and what is entailed in the opt out process,” Dr Bartone was quoted as saying Wednesday.
He said Mr Hunt had agreed to consider extending the opt-out period by a month from the October 15 deadline, to allow Australians to become informed of their options.
Mr Hunt is expected to raise the proposed extension with state health ministers at this week’s COAG meeting.