Page 4404 - Week 14 - Tuesday, 22 November 2005

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are in place regarding amendments to the tenth principle, which allows for disclosure of otherwise private information to family members for compassionate reasons.

There are also amendments that allow the disclosure of information to carers where it is necessary for them to safely and effectively carry out their functions. Perhaps the most debatable amendment in this bill allows for identifiable data to be disclosed for research purposes or for the compilation or analysis of statistics.

The scrutiny of bills committee raises concerns that disclosure of medical records may be made to any entity and that there are no ethical controls in place. Offsetting these concerns is the limitation that applies to other medical records that the information should be protected and that it must not be used or disclosed for any other purpose. I am prepared to support this amendment but would ask the department to monitor the application closely and to bring this act back to the Assembly if any problems regarding disclosure eventuate.

I note that there is a broad project in train that is about improving the legal status and the practice of creating advance agreements that people may wish to put in place in anticipation of episodes of intense mental psychosis or in cases of terminal physical illness. I understand that this is not the business of the act before us, but they do run across each other. So I am using this debate as an opportunity to urge the Attorney-General to ensure that that project is pursued promptly. I believe it could deliver substantial benefits to health care consumers in the territory and, of course, to their practitioners.

In addition to some redrafting for clarity and style, other elements of this bill include updates to incorporate recent amendments to the Children and Young Peoples Act, a specification of domestic partners consistent with other ACT legislation, a provision to allow for health records to be accessed by immediate family members if a patient or consumer dies intestate and a stronger confidentiality protection when the consumer or the patient requires it. These are all intelligent amendments to the act and I am pleased to support them.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (12.08), in reply: I thank members for their support of this legislation. These are important reforms to provide better access to health records information to those who have a genuine and legitimate interest in having access to them and who have previously been restricted in their options in getting access to such records.

I would like to flag that the government has been advised that there are a small number of amendments that should be made to this legislation following scrutiny by the scrutiny of bills committee and, given that those amendments were only made available to me as minister today, I foreshadow that I will circulate those amendments out of session for members to scrutinise and propose to bring this bill back for debate in the detail stage at clause 1 on Thursday so that members have sufficient time to scrutinise what I believe are non-contentious amendments but which members should have the ability to look at prior to debate.

Again, I thank members for their support. I foreshadow that the government will recommence the detail stage debate on this debate on Thursday.

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