ACCESS to timely, safe, high quality health care is a reasonable expectation for all Tasmanians. Currently residents in the North-West and West Coast regions, and other regional areas, are right to feel aggrieved at the inequity we face in access to some health services that could and should be provided in our local region.
We generally accept it is safer to travel to access a one-off complex surgical procedure, despite the inconvenience at the time. However, travelling for noncomplex procedures that can and should be provided locally or for some chronic conditions is unreasonable and inequitable.
Whilst the Patient Travel Assistance Scheme (PTAS) is an important means of financially compensating Tasmanians from regional areas to access specialist and complex health care that I think we all accept can’t be provided everywhere in the State, PTAS is a reimbursement and, therefore, patients must have the financial capacity to pay up-front to access these services.
Access to pain specialists is one service that should be provided locally. People with chronic and severe pain should not have to travel many hours to see a Pain Specialist for all the obvious reasons. Chronic conditions such as this need local access to specialist services. North-West and West Coast residents are suffering and not being treated equitably and that is not okay.
Access to surgical termination of pregnancy is another glaring omission. This non-complex procedure, should be part of our local public hospital services – $475 plus other costs associated with travel to Hobart, is not “low cost” and many women simply will not be able to afford this.
The time frame for safe surgical termination at a clinic (to open in Hobart) is small and likely to be missed when only available every two weeks. There is also no follow-up care and in case of any complication the woman will need to access the public health service not those who treated her.
For women outside Hobart this is not a timely, safe or equitable service. It can and should be provided at North-West hospitals. Personal moral judgments or beliefs should not negatively impact on access to safe and timely care. The Minister for Health must address this inequity.
The Advocate 19 November 2018