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Monday, March 27, 2006

NSW Government accused of "sneaky" change to privacy law

The NSW Government’s pilot project for the introduction of electronic health records, commenced in the Hunter region on 23 March. A previous blog highlighted the privacy concern that the project appeared to be contrary to Clause 15 of the NSW Health Records and Information Privacy Act which requires express consent to inclusion of records in a linked electronic system.

It appears the Government solved the problem by making a regulation under the Act to exempt the pilot scheme from this compliance obligation. The Australian’s IT page provides the details – it says that the decision to reverse the requirement for consent “has sent a chilling ripple through consumer and privacy groups involved in Healthelink consultations”.

Groups including the Council of Social Service NSW and the Australian Privacy Foundation have been strongly critical of the way in which the change was “quietly” gazetted on 10 March.

While the Minister for Health issued a media statement (Trial of Electronic Health Records) on 23 March , it made no mention of the regulation.

We couldn’t find any mention of it on the Department of Health website or that of Privacy NSW. So much for openness and transparency.

However the Health Records and Information Privacy Regulation 2006 is there for all to see in the consolidated set of NSW Regulations - just the place most people would look!

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