Dr Kerryn Phelps backs My Health Record inquiry

A PUSH for a Senate inquiry into the My Health Record amid ongoing security and privacy concerns has been backed by a former Australian Medical Association president.

After Health Minister Greg Hunt labelled Labor's call for a wide-ranging probe into the controversial digital record a "stunt" today, former AMA president Kerryn Phelps hit back saying it was a responsible decision to hold an inquiry.

"My Health Record has such far reaching potential implications that it must be the subject of a broader inquiry," Dr Phelps said on Twitter.

She has been vocal about her concerns over the government's roll out of the record and over the potential impacts of the My Health Record for patients' privacy.

Dr Phelps' comments come after Federal Labor's call for an urgent Senate inquiry into the digital records that will be automatically created for every Australian unless they opt-out by November.

Labor's health spokeswoman Catherine King announced today that Labor intends to launch a Senate inquiry into the My Health Record, to report back to Parliament before the opt-out period ends.

The inquiry would examine the laws and regulations that underpin the My Health Record.

Health Minister Greg Hunt has already been forced to commit last month to tweaking the legislation underpinning the records after doctors expressed concerns about police and other government agencies being able to access Australians' health data without a warrant.

But Shadow Health Minister Catherine King said the government's concessions to change the legislation did not go far enough.

Federal Shadow Minister for Health and Medicare Catherine King. Picture: AAP
Federal Shadow Minister for Health and Medicare Catherine King. Picture: AAP

Although Labor supports the electronic health record system, Ms King said the Government's "bungled rollout" had "severely undermined public trust" in the reform.

"While the Government has agreed to a number of changes demanded by Labor and doctors' groups, including an extension of the opt-out period and a new public information campaign, more needs to be done," she said.

 

Screen grabs from the My Health Record government website. Picture: Supplied
Screen grabs from the My Health Record government website. Picture: Supplied

 

"We will this week ask the crossbench to support a reference to the Senate Finance and Public Administration References Committee, which also inquired into the census failure and the sale of Medicare numbers on the darkweb."

The inquiry will look at the Government's decision to shift from an opt-in system to an opt-out system, a range of privacy and security concerns, including the adequacy of the system's log-in procedures and default settings.

"It will also consider issues raised in the public domain around domestic violence and workers' compensation," Ms King said.

Health Minister Greg Hunt in Question Time. Picture Kym Smith
Health Minister Greg Hunt in Question Time. Picture Kym Smith

"The inquiry will also look at the adequacy of the Government's public information campaign, and the potential that commercial interests, including health insurers, could be given access to My Health data."

Labor wants the Government to suspend the My Health Record rollout until the inquiry reports.

Mr Hunt labelled Labor's push for an inquiry into the records a "stunt".

"Labor knows we were already going to refer the My Health Record legislative changes to the Senate as a matter of ordinary business," he wrote on Twitter after the announcement.

"This is a stunt and they know we were writing to the Senate and they were just trying to get in ahead."



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