In a further blow to the Federal Government’s My Health Record roll out, Queensland has criticised the disastrous opt out communications campaign, with the state’s Health Minister Dr Steven Miles claiming ministers at this week’s Council of Australian Governments meeting should consider suspending the opt out period.

In a letter to federal Health Minister Greg Hunt on Friday, Miles claimed the campaign has generated “very serious concerns” about cybersecurity and data privacy, including fears of widespread access to patients’ private health records.

“You are no doubt also aware of the flood of news stories and opinion urging consumers to opt out for a wide range of reasons, including the system being vulnerable to hacking,” Miles wrote.

“At this point in time, it is clear that the Australian Government and [the Australian Digital Health Agency] are failing to adequately address the broader community concerns.”

COAG health ministers are meeting in Alice Springs on Thursday and Miles said a suspension of the three-month opt out period should be on the table, with the roll out to resume when concerns about the current legislation, which provides access to My Health Record by law enforcement agencies without warrants, have been resolved.

A Federal Government spokesperson told The Australian that Miles’s threat to disrupt the roll out was aimed at “embarrassing” Hunt for party political purposes.

Last week federal Labor leader Bill Shorten ramped up opposition to the My Health Record roll out, calling for the suspension of opt out period until widespread privacy concerns from opponents including cybersecurity experts, domestic violence campaigners, doctors and mental health groups were addressed.

The $2 billion major health infrastructure project will see every Australian provided with a My Health Record unless they opt out by October 15. About 6 million people currently have a MHR.

[Read more: Opposition calls for My Health Record roll out to be suspended amid growing data privacy concerns | "Take a deep breath": Opposition calls for extension to My Health Record opt out period as Liberal MP withdraws from system]

On the first day of the opt out period on July 16, 20,000 people rushed to opt out, with many discovering My Health Records had already been created for them without their consent. There have also been numerous claims of incorrect information in MHRs, including wrong data relating to doctors’ appointments and medications.

But yesterday, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard placed his support firmly behind the national health record database.

“NSW is 100 per cent behind MHR,” Hazzard told The Australian.

“It is the Holy Grail of patient care.”

But a Victorian government spokesperson said there was “bipartisan” anger towards the government’s opt out campaign.

Speaking at HISA’s HIC18 digital health conference in Sydney today, Minister for Rural Health Senator Bridget McKenzie said confidence in My Health Record within the medical profession and wider community is essential to its success.

Hunt is meeting with the AMA and RACGP tomorrow, and McKenzie said an announcement on the government’s response to data privacy concerns would be released this week.

To share tips, news or announcements, contact the HITNA editor on lynne.minion@himssmedia.com

 

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