AMA president Tony Bartone vows to safeguard patient privacy in My Health

My Health Record backdown

But an expert report by the Parliamentary Library - drawn up to provide background information for MPs - says the law governing My Health Record represents a "significant reduction" in the legal threshold for the release of private medical information to police.

Australian Medical Association president Dr Tony Bartone says that he has received written undertakings from health minister Greg Hunt and the Department of Health that an individual's My Health Record data will not be accessed by law enforcement agencies in the absence of a court order.

The AMA head said that Hunt contacted him following his NPC address "to set up a meeting to discuss all aspects of the rollout of the My Health Record".

Speaking to journalists yesterday, Hunt dodged questions about why explicitly stating health data can not be sold or handed over to the tax office has not been added to the My Health Record legislation.

At present if you opt out after October 15 the record will become inactive but will remain on the system for 30 years after your death or for 130 years if the government is not notified of your death.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Thursday the government was committed to maintaining privacy of the system.

"They can not and will not issue any records without a court order and I think it's a very simple way to look at it", Mr Hunt told reporters on Wednesday.

"But this is a program which has had bipartisan support for a long time".

The promise comes as opposition leader Bill Shorten calls for the expansion of the opt-out system to be paused, despite the relevant section of the legislation being exactly the same in the original PCEHR Act passed when Labor was in power in 2012 as it appears today.

Health Minister Greg Hut has told doctors he will strengthen privacy My Health Record
Health Minister Greg Hut has told doctors he will strengthen privacy My Health Record

Mr Turnbull moved to ease concerns by saying if refinements were needed, they would be made.

"I wouldn't have thought I would be contemplating it, but I do say to the government again, please get your act together", he said. Picture Mick Tsikas AAP.

Hunt also insisted it was illegal for insurance companies to access the information.

The Federal Government has tried to reassure people that privacy will be protected in the My Health Record system.

Tens of thousands of Australians are racing to opt out of having an online My Health Record which will reveal sensitive information such as abortions, drug addictions, mental health problems and sexually transmitted diseases.

Dr Nespolon is concerned about the specific parts of the law which he believes "conflict with the aims of delivering good healthcare and improving health outcomes for all Australians".

"Confidentiality and the expectation of privacy is the cornerstone in the provision of healthcare", he said.

The shift from RACGP follows on from Australian Medical Association president Dr Tony Bartone saying on Wednesday he wanted the discrepancy between Australian Digital Health Agency policy and what is now law clarified.

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