Government pushing ahead with November opt-out deadline

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The Morrison government is pushing ahead with the mid-November cut-off for people to opt-out of the My Health Record.

A Senate inquiry recommended the government extend the opt-out period for another 12 months and implement further changes ensuring the privacy of the personalised health record.

Shadow health minister Catherine King said health minister Greg Hunt should commission the Privacy Commissioner and the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner to review the system.

Ms King said a review should consider the "appropriate balance" between the needs of clinicians, patients and others, and the privacy and security of individuals.

It should also consider further policy and legislative change that reflects the recommendations of the Senate inquiry, including the challenge of ensuring informed consent in an opt-out model.

Ms King also criticised the government for delaying parliamentary consideration of its already announced amendments to the My Health Record until the day before the opt-out period is due to end. 

Under the amendments, people will be able to withdraw from My Health Record after the opt-out period ends and all information will be deleted. Under the original plan, some basic information about all records would have been kept for up to 130 years, even if a patient requested its deletion.

The Consumers Health Forum said the government should "work collaboratively" to pass the enabling legislation before the opt-out period ends.

"There has been enormous public investment in getting MHR to this point, and CHF would welcome bipartisanship around additional amendments that further strengthen the policy intent and protections," said CEO Leanne Wells.

"To meet the intent of legislative amendments to address privacy concerns, it is CHF’s view that these must be passed before the end of the mid November opt-out period, and that ideally no records should be created following the opt-out period until the implementation of those amendments is complete," said the CHF.

Minister Hunt said the government would consider the recommendations of the Senate inquiry but had no plans to extend the current opt-out deadline.