Red Cross data breach

Last month, the Australian Red Cross Blood Service (“Red Cross”) discovered a data breach involving the personal and medical information (including name, birthdate and address) of 550,000 customers who used the online registration system between 2010 and 2016.

Red Cross have since confirmed that the file was being stored on an unsecured server which was being managed by a third party website developer.

Red Cross will now face an enquiry into its overall capability to protect its customers’ highly sensitive information and specifically why it was collecting and storing such information on an unsecured server.

If found to have breached the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth), Red Cross and its website developer could face fines of up to $1.7 million; however, the 2014 data breach of 16,000 Telstra customers resulted in the telecommunications provider being fined only $10,000.

Click here to read the Red Cross press release.

Licence scheme to cultivate cannabis for medicinal purposes now open

The Minister for Health, Aged Care and Sport, The Hon Sussan Ley, has announced that businesses may now apply for a licence to cultivate cannabis for medicinal purposes, to manufacture medicinal cannabis products or to conduct medicinal cannabis related research under the Medicinal Cannabis Scheme.

The Medicinal Cannabis Scheme is a set of regulations and security protocols for the cultivation, production and manufacture of medicinal cannabis and is the result of extensive consultation between State, Territory and Federal Government authorities.

Licensees must be deemed a fit and proper person and meet other legislative criteria relating to site, information and personnel security required by the newly amended Narcotic Drugs Act 1967 (Cth). The Office of Drug Control within the Department of Health will be responsible for the regulation of the medicinal cannabis framework.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (“RACGP”) has released a position statement stating that further research is both warranted and desirable to clarify the uncertainties of the efficacy and safety of medical cannabis.

Concerns have arisen that the recent changes in legislation may create the perception of easy access and RACGP warns that GPs may experience greater patient demand to prescribe cannabis-based medications. This must be balanced against evidence-based practice and legislative requirements, particularly where there is potential for the misuse of medicinal cannabis.

To read the Minister’s announcement click here or to read RACGP’s position statement click here.

GPs critical in the coordination of breast cancer care

Cancer Australia recently released a statement, Influencing best practice in breast cancer. The statement sets out what should be done in breast cancer care to maximise clinical benefit, minimise harm and deliver patient-centred care. There are 12 practices included in the statement which Cancer Australia has marked as either ‘appropriate’ or ‘not appropriate’ for GPs to engage in during the provision of breast cancer care in Australia.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) welcomes the statement, which highlights the critical role GPs play in the management of breast cancer and advocates for how GP-led follow up is a safe and effective alternative to sub-specialist follow up.

To read the RACGP release click here or to read the Statement click here.