Wednesday, October 19, 2016
It Rather Seems Labor Rather Overreached With Its Scare Campaign Regarding The National Cancer Screening Register (NCRS) And Telstra Health.
Late this week we saw the Senate pass the Legislation to enable Telstra Health to run the NCRS despite furious complaints from the Greens and Labor.
Here is a report of the debate in the Reps.
7:08pm October 11, 2016
Federal Labor is trying to stop Telstra running a new national cancer screening register, upset sensitive health information will be handed to the private sector.
But the party has so far failed to amend legislation to restrict the management of the register to government agencies or not-for-profit organisations.
From May 1, the two-yearly Pap test will be replaced by an improved five-yearly cervical screening test administered by one national register, along with the bowel cancer screening program.
The bill to establish the register passed the House of Representatives on Tuesday.
Labor supports the register but insists it's a disgrace the government signed a contract with Telstra before legislation had been presented to parliament.
Opposition MP Julie Owens said "extremely private" health data like cervical cancer texts, cancer precursors and Medicare details had never been handed over to a corporate company.
The government was treating the register like a guinea pig by giving sensitive patient data to Telstra, she said.
But Health Minister Sussan Ley said the protection of personal information in the register was of "paramount importance".
Labor's attempt to restrict the management of the register would be an "extraordinary" restriction on government ability to partner with companies.
In a Senate enquiry which reported on the same day there were 2 recommendations:
The committee recommends that the Government closely consider amending the National Cancer Screening Register Bill 2016 in line with the recommendations from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.
The committee recommends that the Bills be passed.
Sensibly the Government agreed to the suggestions from the Privacy Commissioner for some changes to the way the register was legislated to operate and we then got the following report.
By Allie Coyne on Oct 13, 2016 5:29PM
The Senate has passed a bill enabling the federal government's planned national cancer screening register after the government agreed to fix privacy holes pointed out by the Information Commissioner.
Legislation backing the the register - which will be run by Telstra under a $220 million deal - went to parliamentary committee for scrutiny after Labor and the Greens raised issues with its drafting.
The Senate standing committee on community affairs this week tabled its report on the legislation, recommending the government "closely consider" amending the bill in line with the advice of Information Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim, who raised a number of privacy concerns.
Pilgrim pointed out the draft legislation authorised the use of personal information contained in the register for research purposes, bypassing a framework within the Privacy Act set up to grant exemptions for data access in the case of health research.
He said the bill also allowed the register to collect comprehensive Medicare claims information, rather than just information related to bowel and cervical cancer screening.
"Considering the sensitivity of Medicare claims information, only the specific Medicare claims information necessary for the purposes of the register should be collected," Pilgrim advised.
So, despite the Government not bothering to get Parliamentary approval for their plans – and leaving a range of things up in the air – we have an outcome which seems reasonable and sensible.
Telstra Health will be fully cognisant of the damage that will be done to their reputation if they mess up and I suspect this will provide confidence they will work very hard to do things properly!
Time will tell if I am right.
Posted by Dr David G More MB PhD at Wednesday, October 19, 2016