My Health Record Opt-Out Period Extended Amid Security Concerns

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2 August 2018

Article heading image for My Health Record Opt-Out Period Extended Amid Security Concerns

Australians will have a month longer than planned to opt out of the federal government's controversial electronic health records system.

Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters in Alice Springs, ahead of a meeting with state and territory health ministers on Thursday, that the mid-October opt out deadline has been pushed back.

The move comes after Mr Hunt revealed on Wednesday the My Health Records laws will be changed so police and government agencies will need a court order to obtain patient data.

The backdown followed talks with the Australian Medical Association and Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.

Labor said the changes didn't go far enough and called for the rollout to be suspended, to give more people time to make an informed choice.

But Mr Hunt said medical authorities were clear they want it done this year.

The minister said he also asked the head of the Digital Health Agency to meet with legal groups who expressed concerns that loopholes in the systems could put family violence victims at risk.

The Women's Legal Service of Queensland has said the system could allow a violent person to create a record for their child without their ex-partner's consent, potentially allowing them to track down their estranged family's location.

"The advice I have is that there are very, very strong protections, but we're always working with different groups," Mr Hunt said.

"The head of the Digital Health Agency will meet with ... those groups and take their concerns very, very seriously."

Concerns over privacy and access issues have dogged the system since it was released for national public access last month after a six-year trial.

Mr Hunt plans to amend the My Health Record Act in the next sitting of parliament to bring it into line with existing Australian Digital Health Agency policy.

Under the changes, patients will be able to delete their records permanently from the system.

Aboriginal health is expected to be a major focus when Mr Hunt meets with the nation's health ministers on Thursday, ahead of a visit to the Santa Teresa community with Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt.

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