Liberal backbencher Tim Wilson has removed himself from the My Health Record system and believes that should be the default position.
“I don’t think it will surprise anybody that my instinctive position should always be as a Liberal that systems should be opt-in and people should be able to freely choose to opt into a system rather than have to go through the process of opting out, and that includes myself,” Wilson told Sky News.
But for those who choose to take part he said there will be benefits for efficiency and access to medical records, he believes.
The system has been in place for six years and already six million Australians are participating.
People have been given a three-month window from July 16 to October 15 to opt-out if they don’t want to be involved.
After that period a record will be created for all remaining Australians.
Labor has called on that deadline to be extended to allow the government to run an information campaign to restore public trust in the scheme.
About 20,000 people opted out on the first day of that period, fearing the risk of privacy breaches.
In a letter to Health Minister Greg Hunt, opposition health spokeswoman Catherine King reiterated Labor’s support for digital health records, but raised concerns the government’s implementation process had “seriously undermined public trust”.
She accused the government of failing to effectively communicate potential benefits and to explain how people’s rights will be respected and privacy protected.
“This approach has fuelled suspicion and scepticism – which may be why tens of thousands of people have rushed to opt out in the first week,” she said.
Implemented properly, the e-health system could have significant benefits for clinician and patients and save the health system billions of dollars, she said.
Mental health bodies and lobby group Digital Rights Watch have urged people to opt out if they doubt the security of the system.
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