Unknown government profiles created for Mackay residents
STUART Harris decided to opt-out of the government's crisis-riddled My Health Record - only to discover one had been created for him more than two years ago.
But the Airlie Beach man is not alone, because all residents in North Queensland, stretching from Clarke Creek to Cape York, including the Greater Mackay region, had a My Health Record account automatically created for them in 2016.
My Health Record is a digital database containing the medical records of every Australian who does not opt out by mid-October.
The Australian Digital Health Agency, which runs the program, is facing a crisis of confidence into its ability to safely store sensitive health data.
Its privacy framework was recently compared to being near-identical to a system in England that was cancelled after it was found to be selling patient data to drug and insurance companies.
More than 700,000 North Queenslanders had accounts created for them by mid-July 2016, because the area was one of two spots in Australia, including the Nepean Valley in NSW, which had been chosen for a trial.
Mr Harris said he was never informed about his active file.
"The thing is they shouldn't have had those records there in the first place," he said.
"I didn't have an account number or password to log in.
"It's crazy, everybody needs to go and check if they have a record."
Dawson MP George Christensen said the NQ Primary Health Network put out extensive information through the media - radio, print and social - and also leaflets to households telling them they would be automatically signed up.
"North Queenslanders have been on the system for about two years and the sky hasn't fallen," he said. "It's actually made it easier for GPs and hospitals to understand the medical history of North Queensland patients, thereby improving health outcomes and perhaps even saving lives.
A NQPHN spokeswoman said residents were notified via a two stage campaign with a combined audience of more than a million. Every household was also sent a letter.
People were told to opt out before July 14, 2016, of which 1.9 per cent did.
According to ADHA, only healthcare providers, not insurers, should have access to your data. However, there are plans to use anonymised My Health Record data for research and other purposes.
Of particular concern to Mr Harris, once a My Health Record is active, any data uploaded to the system by doctors will be stored for 30 years after someone's death or 130 years after their date of birth if their date of passing is unknown.
"This is really opening a can of worms isn't it?" he said.
Residents can opt out of the system before October 15.
Those who already have an active file should phone 1800723471.