07 March 2023, 15:21
Victorian Legislative Council, Melbourne

Debate was resumed on the motion of Ingrid Stitt (Western Metropolitan)

David ETTERSHANK (Western Metropolitan): I rise to speak to the Health Legislation Amendment (Information Sharing) Bill 2023. There is no doubt that in an emergency room context having a patient’s medical history at hand can be life saving. It can also be time saving and cost saving: life saving in terms of immediacy of treatment and time and cost saving in terms of diagnostics, quicker treatment and reduced wait times. There can be no doubt that our health system is currently at a point of crisis, a crisis that has the potential to become worse if, or rather when, a more virulent strain of COVID presents itself. There is no doubt that in Victoria in 2023 there has to be a better alternative to doctors and nurses faxing each other, because that is how information is being exchanged across our public health system this very minute. We support the intent of this bill in that regard, but it is a bill with criticisms from a range of prominent stakeholders, on which we are well briefed. Patient autonomy and privacy are very legitimate concerns already canvassed in this chamber and privately. These are issues of great concern too to medical cannabis patients, who remain stigmatised both inside and outside of the health system.

This bill as originally presented could not have had our support. A range of concerns will hopefully be ameliorated in part by government house amendments. Further concerns may be addressed via undertakings given on the floor of this chamber by the minister representing. Some may be remedied via amendment. We currently await a response from the government to a number of matters raised, and we will be paying close attention to the remainder of the debate.


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