Top Aussie doctor ditches his My Health Record
HEALTH Minister Greg Hunt is preparing to back down on the controversial My Health Record and will strengthen privacy provisions as Opposition Leader Bill Shorten considers opting out of the record.
The move comes amid the explosive revelation that the new boss of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) says he cancelled his My Health Record this week because of privacy concerns.
Dr Harry Nespolon president elect of the RACGP told News Corp Australia he opted out of his record on Monday.
"I opted out because the My Health Record should be about my health and is not for government agencies or police," he said.
Dr Nespolon's decision is a major blow for the government and the Australian Digital Health Agency which referenced the RACGP's support for the scheme in its media release announcing the start of the three month opt out period on July 16.
Dr Nespolon says his members are very concerned about both privacy and the poor usability of the My Health Record.
The Sydney GP does not use the My Health Record at all in his Neutral Bay medical practice.
Health Minister Greg Hunt called Dr Nespolon yesterday as concerns mounted in the medical profession about the privacy safeguards on the record.
Dr Nespolon says the government must change section 70 of the My Health Record Act so police and other government bodies are required to get a court order to access the My Health Record.
He also wants the law changed so people can opt out of the record whenever they like and have it completely removed from the system.
At present if you opt out after October 15 the record will become inactive but will remain on the system for 30 years after your death or for 130 years if the government is not notified of your death.
"If the government can't change the legislation by October 15 they should extend the opt out period," Dr Nespolon said.
Dr Harry Nespolon met with Mr Hunt earlier this week as concerns mounted about police, the Australian Taxation Office and other government agencies getting access to the record without a court order.
Dr Nespolon has written to RACGP members today to say Mr Hunt agreed in that meeting to strengthen Mr Health Record privacy provisions.
"Following discussions earlier this week with the Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt, and in response to my initiative, the minister has agreed to work to satisfactorily strengthen the privacy provisions governing My Health Record in regards to the legislation in line with government policy and practice," he says in the letter.
Dr Nespolon's move also comes as the My Health Record opt out system stopped working today because of computer problems with Medicare.
And a Parliamentary Library article explaining how the My Health Record legislation allowed police access to the record without a court order appeared to have been taken down from the library's website.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has promised to fix privacy concerns with the My Health Record while slamming the Opposition Leader for considering opting out.
"Some concerns have been expressed recently about potential privacy concerns, and the doctors of some of the AMA and College of general practitioners who support My Health record have raised some issues, which they've discussed with the Health Minister, and they will be addressed," he told reporters in Tasmania.
The program was introduced by Labor in 2012 and had bipartisan support, he said.
" It says a lot about Bill Shorten's character that having been a strong supporter for it for all of those six years, now just before two by-elections he's walking away from it," Mr Turnbull said.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said he was considering opting out of the My Health Record, a Labor creation, because of privacy concerns and poor implementation by the Turnbull Government.
"I wouldn't have thought two weeks ago or three months ago I would ever be at this point I'd question if I would opt out," he told reporters during a press conference in Tasmania.
"I wouldn't have thought I would be contemplating it, but I do say to the government again, please get your act together," he said.
"There are questions on privacy."
The Opposition wants the government to suspend the roll out of the My Health Record until privacy concerns are addressed.
"It's one thing to have your medical information available to doctors but if this medical information is available to large insurance companies, if it can be used for legal proceedings people say, whoa, this is not what people are signing up for," Mr Shorten said.
Every Australian will get a My Health Record unless they opt out by October 15.
Tens of thousands of Australians are racing to opt out of having an online My Health Record which will reveal sensitive information such as abortions, drug addictions, mental health problems and sexually transmitted diseases.
News Corp reported today that Five former Australian Medical Association presidents have called for the legislation behind the My Health Record to be changed to require police to get a court order before they can access the record.
Dr Nespolon said there were issues regarding specific aspects of the legislation, "which conflict with the aims of delivering good healthcare and improving health outcomes for all Australians".
"Confidentiality and the expectation of privacy is the cornerstone in the provision of healthcare," he says.