Now, the Federal Government will tighten privacy rules around the controversial My Health Record system. Live now to Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt in Melbourne. Good morning to you Minister and thank you for your time. What changes exactly are you going to be making to this system?
So we’ll be making two changes at the request of the medical leaders, the AMA and the College of GPs. Firstly, we’ll be lifting Labor’s 2012 legislation to the same standard as the practice for the last six years which has covered six million records, where no record would ever be released to a law enforcement or other government agency without a court order. That’s been the practice, but we will lift the legislation to enshrine that. So that’s additional protection, additional security, additional reassurance.
And secondly, again at the suggestion and I think the sensible request of the medical authorities, we’ll change the 2012 Labor legislation to ensure that if somebody seeks to opt out or have their My Health Record cancelled, it will be deleted from the system forever. Until now, it would have been archived for up to 130 years, but this will give people the additional security, the additional reassurance that their record, if they don't want it, will be deleted from the system forever.
Minister these seem like fairly obvious changes. Could the Government have done more to get this right earlier? Because it took a lot of public outrage before this was fixed.
Well we’ve responded very quickly to the AMA and the College of GPs. They have spoken to us over the last couple of weeks, and therefore we have responded within a two-week period. The legislation dates back to the previous government in 2012, and it has operated without incident, without breach, without release, without any problems.
But when the medical authorities say, as we move to providing these records which can save lives and protect lives, as the head of the AMA Tony Bartone has said, for all Australians, now is the moment to respond, to have additional protections and additional privacy and additional security.
And I think that they put forward sensible proposals. We’ve responded within a two-week period and I really thank them for their contribution. And what they’re saying is that they want this done this year, because the benefits will prevent medication errors, it will prevent delays in emergency, it can help people with chronic conditions. So ultimately, this is really a fundamental step forward in health care. But, these additional security actions and privacy actions are what the medical authorities have recommended.
Have you opted out, Minister, or have you signed up?
No, I’d opted in prior to this period. I think it’s a very important system. It’s up to every Australian to make their own choice, and that’s one of the great things. And the beauty of it is either if they want to stay in, the record is there. If they want to opt out, then no record will be created. Or if it’s some later stage they want to opt out, not only will it be cancelled but now it will be deleted forever.
So people have total freedom and total control. But the ability to ensure that their medical record is there when they need it for an emergency, for their own information, for the information of their doctor if they seek to have their doctor access it. And that’s a really fundamental step forward to protecting and saving lives.
Well, it’s certainly great that everyone now has a choice. Thank you so much for your time, Minister. We very much appreciate it.