Legislative Council Tuesday 10 July, 2018
Ms FORREST question to LEADER of the GOVERNMENT LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL, Mrs HISCUTT
The Report on Termination of Pregnancy in response to a parliamentary notice of motion tabled on the 3 July 2018 in the House of Assembly states
While the potential addition of a local private provider in the community was welcomed, there was concern about the affordability, long term viability and safety of such a service. Further, if the provider is at one site only, the need for intrastate travel was also identified as both a barrier for women and a cost to the Government.
The advice in the report states -
Where necessary and consistent with long-standing policy, PTAS should be provided to patients whose medical practitioner refers them to services interstate only for services that are unavailable in Tasmania. Once a private provider has been re-established in Hobart, PTAS should be provided in accordance with current policy to support the travel and accommodation of patients travelling intrastate.
(1) As women from areas outside Hobart may need to travel for over five hours to access a service in Hobart, and noting that the Patient Travel Assistance Scheme - PTAS - financial support is claimed after meeting expenses, does the minister agree this creates an inequitable and discriminatory approach to access to health service for women who are financially disadvantaged and live in regional Tasmania?
(2) As it can be easier for some women to travel to Melbourne in terms of time taken and family or other support, will there be reconsideration of PTAS support for intrastate travel if and when a Hobart-based private provider commences?
Mr President, I thank the member for Murchison for her question.
(1) The Patient Travel Assistance Scheme is designed to ensure equity of access for Tasmanians to specialist medical services by assisting eligible patients with transport and accommodation costs of accessing these medical services. This applies to a range of medical procedures only offered in Hobart or interstate, supporting equity of access. This is the purpose of PTAS.
To maximise the benefits of PTAS, the scheme is targeted to those most in need. The PTAS operational guidelines note that inability to pay the required patient contribution will not be used as a basis for refusing assistance to people who have been assessed as needing specialist medical treatment.
(2) As noted in the report where necessary and consistent with longstanding policy PTAS should be provided to patients whose medical practitioner refers them to services interstate only for services that are unavailable in Tasmania. Once a private provider has been re-established in Hobart, PTAS should be provided in accordance with current policy to support the travel and accommodation for patients travelling intrastate.
It is not government policy to provide PTAS for services that are available in Tasmania. I note that previous PTAS was not available at all for surgical termination services whether the application was for intrastate or interstate travel.