My Health Record opt-out period extended at last minute

Greg Hunt made the announcement on Wednesday afternoon ahead of the Thursday deadline after the website suffered major problems.
Greg Hunt made the announcement on Wednesday afternoon ahead of the Thursday deadline after the website suffered major problems.

The My Health Record opt-out period will be extended into 2019.

Health Minister Greg Hunt made the announcement on Twitter in the final hours of the opt-out period following mounting pressure by Labor and heavy backlash over privacy concerns.

“Today the Government worked with the Senate crossbench to extend the opt-out period for #MyHealthRecord,” he said.

“The opt-out period will be extended until January 31, 2019, however, it’s important to note that people can opt-out at any time.”

It comes after the opt-out website experienced technical problems caused by heavy traffic of people wishing to opt-out before the November 15 deadline.

Frustrated users reported seeing error messages while trying to opt-out of the My Health Record on Wednesday. Photo: Facebook.

Frustrated users reported seeing error messages while trying to opt-out of the My Health Record on Wednesday. Photo: Facebook.

In a statement, Mr Hunt continued to praise the system.

“The government’s focus is on strengthening the safety and privacy of health information in the My Health Record system,” he said.

“The Parliament is now considering further amendments to Labor’s original My Health Record legislation. This includes tougher penalties for those that misuse the system, strengthening provisions to safeguard against domestic violence, prohibiting employers from requesting and using health information from an individual’s My Health Record. In addition no health information or deidentified data to be released to insurers.

“My Health Record was designed to save lives. It can help prevent medication misadventures that see more than 230,000 people end up in hospital each year.

“This is almost four times the annual number of people who are hospitalised as a result of motor vehicle accidents.”

Shadow Health Minister Catherine King said it  was a win for “common sense and for all Australians.”

“This will give Federal Parliament the time it needs to pass extra protections and safeguards,’ she said.

“It was absurd that the Government wanted to push on with its original timeline before this legislation had passed.”

Australians will now have until January 31 to decide whether to opt-out.