Page 5639 - Week 15 - Thursday, 10 December 2009

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tracked so that care can continue to be provided despite the movements of consumers or health service providers.

I believe the approach adopted in this bill strikes a good balance between meeting the interests of the health record keeper, consumer and the overarching public health interest.

The GP Taskforce also alluded to a need to compile and maintain an ACT general practice directory for disaster and emergency management and planning purposes. By requiring practices to notify authorities of changes to the physical location of practices, this bill will provide the mechanism for the establishment of an up-to-date directory of general practices that could potentially save lives in cases of disasters and emergency.

The GP Taskforce and the Health Services Commissioner made it quite clear that there was a need to ensure appropriate prioritisation of urgent requests for health records. It is not just good policy but common sense—when a person who is threatened with a disability, severe pain and suffering, or even death if medical care is not provided urgently, seeks a copy of their health record—that a request made under such extreme circumstances be given priority. I understand, and am glad to hear, that this presently occurs in practice but we must take the extra step of ensuring that this position is reflected in our legislation.

I am therefore pleased to inform the Assembly that this bill will ensure that, where an urgent request is made by a consumer, the request is not only given priority but the record must be provided within seven days of the request being made, not the usual 30 days. A GP practice receiving an urgent request for record access can either agree to the request if the circumstances are obvious or ask that it be verified by the treating doctor.

I would like to emphasise that the amendments proposed in this bill, which reflect many of the health records recommendations made by the GP Taskforce, have come about from considerable and significant community and industry consultation. It represents not just the sentiments of stakeholders but a balanced view of the interests of the community and primary healthcare industry. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Hanson) adjourned to the next sitting.

Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (ACT) Bill 2009

Ms Gallagher, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Deputy Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Health and Minister for Industrial Relations) (10.17): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

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