Health info sharing bill passes Victoria’s Legislative Assembly
The Victorian government’s controversial health information sharing bill passed the state’s lower house yesterday.
The Health Legislation Amendment (Information Sharing) bill has also passed its first reading vote in the Legislative Council.
The bill had been before the previous parliament, but lapsed because of last November’s state election.
Health minister Mary-Anne Thomas revived the bill earlier this month, saying it would let health workers access a patient’s medical history from a central location.
This should give different health workers access to consistent and comprehensive information, which can be important in an emergency, she said.
“Currently, a patient’s clinical information is stored in different places which slows down diagnosis and treatment,” the minister said.
“Requesting information from multiple different hospitals manually can be a lengthy process for doctors and nurses, but these changes will create a stronger and more connected system.”
The system would keep patient health data for three years.
The bill has been criticised for the lack of any way for people to opt-out of having their information shared, and because patients cannot find out who has accessed their data.
Addressing the parliamentary debate over the bill last week, Nationals MP Emma Kealy said the lack of an opt-out would leave some patients, particularly those whose recent history included dealing with mental health professionals, at risk.
She added that “that there is deep concern in the community … that this legislation specifically exempts the Department of Health … from being subjected to freedom-of-information request”.
Kealy also criticised the government for having “no funding dedicated to creating a portal that would effectively share information”, recalling the more than $600 million spent on the disastrous HealthSMART project that Victoria abandoned in 2012.