Labor urges MHR opt-out extension


The My Health Record helpline has reportedly crashed, days before the end of the opt-out period

And Shadow Health Minister Catherine King has again called on the Morrison Government to further extend this period beyond the deadline of Thursday, 15 November.

According to the Courier-Mail, the opt-out telephone helpline crashed on November 6, with a call centre operator confirming to News Corp Australia that the system was “currently down”.

“We can’t say how long it has been out but it is likely to be back in an hour’s time,” she said on Tuesday.

Political reporter Claire Bickers also spoke to Health Minister Greg Hunt’s spokesperson, who said the crash was not due to a “rush of calls” ahead of the end of the opt-out period.

“The call centre is currently experiencing technical issues identifying people through the DHS system. This is not due to an influx of calls. It is a technical issue,” the spokesperson said, pointing out that people could still opt out online.

Meanwhile Catherine King has claimed that the Liberals have “botched” My Health Record as well as “their own clean-up job”.

“Nearly four months after public controversy first erupted – and with less than 10 days to go until the opt-out period ends – we still don’t know what the Government is planning to do to fix this mess,” she says.

“Will they push ahead with their woefully inadequate bill, which addresses only a fraction of the concerns raised throughout the Senate inquiry?”

Labor has suggested six amendments which would require sending the legislation back to the lower house – which does not sit again until 10 days after the opt-out period ends – for approval.

Ms King again called on Mr Hunt to further extend the opt-out period and delay the rollout until all concerns have been resolved through legislation and a Privacy Commissioner review completed.

“The Government’s rollout has seriously undermined public support for an electronic health record system that could deliver enormous benefits to patients and clinicians,” she claims.

She says that if the concerns are not addressed, Labor will move a number of amendments to the bill:

  • The My Health Record can never be privatised or commercialised;
  • Private health insurers can never access My Health Records, including de-identified data;
  • Employees’ right to privacy is protected in the context of employer-directed health care;
  • Vulnerable children and parents such as those fleeing domestic violence are protected, by narrowing the definition of parental responsibility;
  • The System Operator (the Australian Digital Health Agency) cannot delegate access to My Health Records to other entities; and
  • There are tougher penalties for breaches of the Act.

Last month a Digital Health Evidence Review, released by the Australian Digital Health Agency, found that My Health Record consumers in Australia have more ability to personally control their digital health information than in similar countries worldwide.

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