Health record opt-out time extended to January as Government caves in

Shadow Health Spokesperson Catherine King

This would include representatives of the ADHA and the data custodian, which is the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, as well as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person.

But early this afternoon the Senate voted in favour of an amendment, proposed by One Nation leader Pauline Hanson, to extend the deadline for opting out from tomorrow to January 31.

He said the Government listened to concerns raised by various groups and planned to increase penalties for improper use of the digital system, strengthen provisions to safeguard against domestic violence, prohibit employers from requesting and using health information in a person's record for discriminatory purposes and that no health information will be released to private health insurers or other types of insurers for research purposes.

The opt-out period for the program (which began in July) was initially extended by a month, pushing it out until Thursday, November 15.

The record will contain sensitive information on the medicines you are taking, your medical consultations, medical test results and reveal if you have had an abortion, a mental illness, a sexually transmitted disease or a drug addiction.

"There are serious questions over privacy and security that need to be debated and legislated by the Parliament. There's no guarantee the legislation will even pass this year", she said.

To opt out of My Health Record, you can either go the online route by visiting the My Health Record website or call 1800 723 471 and do it over the phone.

The incident will do little to quell fears that the system is not designed for an opt out model that will likely see millions of records automatically created.

People attempting to opt out took to social media to vent their frustrations.

"The #MyHealthRecord opt out webpage has crashed".

It started as an opt-in scheme - the Coalition government changed it to an opt-out.

"It just failed straight away", Jessup told Guardian Australia.

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The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners president Harry Nespolon supported an extension to the opt-out period.

Today, the Senate voted to extend My Health Record opt-out.

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner - which is the independent regulator of the privacy aspects of the system - in a recent submission to a Senate inquiry reported almost 100 breaches.

Under the scheme, an online health record will automatically be created for all Australians unless they choose to opt out.

The site has experienced some difficulties with heavy traffic as people have sought to opt out. "These issues have now been resolved".

Now a young person aged 14 and over can take control of their My Health Record at any time by removing their parents' access to their record.

Opposition health spokeswoman Catherine King said My Health Record promised huge benefits for people which participated, but they had been jeopardised by the Liberals shifting away from Labor's opt-in model.

Until now the government had been blocking all calls for an extension.

Centre Alliance's health spokesman, Stirling Griff, told Guardian Australia the proposed 12-month extension was "too long" and a shorter extension of nearly three months was "sufficient" given people's minds would now be focused on the need to opt out.

"Minister Hunt could have implemented an extension with the stroke of a pen weeks ago", Ms King said.

Good news privacy fans: you now have two more months to opt out of the government's controversial My Health Record, which provides an online data base of people's health information to healthcare providers and basically anyone else who wants it.

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