Doctors tasked with uploading their patients’ data to the My Health Record system may refuse to do so if their concerns aren’t addressed, according to former president of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) Kerryn Phelps.

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Phelps called on the government to extend the current opt-out period—which runs until October 15 this year—and to remove the ability for the body running the scheme to hand over a person’s sensitive information to authorities.

“Many of my colleagues that I’ve spoken to, particularly in general practice, are deeply concerned,” she said.

“They’re very worried about privacy and intruding into the doctor-patient relationship.”

My Health Record, the cornerstone project of the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA), is a national digital health system designed to centralise an individual’s health information.

According to the ADHA website, its purpose is to deliver ‘safer, better quality healthcare’.

However, many have criticised the system as a privacy breach given that under current legislation, police, courts, and the Australian Taxation Office are able to access an individual’s medical information without a warrant or subpoena.

This puts many marginalised communities at risk including LGBTI people, people living with HIV, people who use recreational drugs, and sex workers.

Phelps said the process should be about the rights of the patient above anything else.

“Anything that is not in the patient’s interest, should not be in the legislation,” she said.

Earlier this week, federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the government expected up to 10 per cent of eligible patients to opt-out of My Health Record, which could mean millions.

Roughly six million Australians are already registered for My Health Record following an opt-in period that was launched in 2012.

Find out more about My Health Record and how to opt-out.

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