Published: 17 July 2018

Legislative Council Tuesday 10 July, 2018


The Report on Termination of Pregnancy in response to the parliamentary notice of motion tabled on 3 July 2018 in the House of Assembly states -

While the potential addition of a new local private provider in the community was welcomed there was concern about the affordability, long term viability and the safety of such as 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 -

Appropriately licensed private providers should continue to be supported to provide choice and access when it is not available in the public system and, in order to ensure access to that alternative consideration should be given to providing financial support to a provider on appropriate terms. 

(1) To promote equity of access to a health service for all Tasmanian women and to prevent a discriminatory approach to this service delivery, will the Government also financially support local private providers, such as private hospitals in Burnie and Launceston, to provide surgical termination of pregnancy services to women?

(2) If not, why not and how can this service be considered equitable access to a legal reproductive health service for all Tasmanian women, especially those who are financially disadvantaged, because PTAS support is paid following the procedure and many women cannot afford the up front costs? 


Mr President, I thank the member for Murchison for her question.

(1) As announced on Tuesday 3 July 2018, the Department of Health and Human Services has reached an in-principle five-year agreement for a new private provider to deliver low-cost surgical termination of pregnancy services in Tasmania. This service will commence by October this year, contingent on finalisation of the terms of the agreement and licensing and accreditation requirements. I am advised that, like many medical services, a minimum volume of procedures is required to provide a safe and viable service. When the previous provider of surgical termination services ceased to operate in Tasmania, they cited diminishing market demand as a factor for their decision. There are lower numbers of surgical terminations occurring in Tasmania following the increased take-up of medical terminations and the service may only be viable and able to operate safely in one location. I am advised the department will continue to monitor the issue.

(2) Regarding access, the Patient Travel Assistance Scheme will be available for intrastate travel to the Hobart-based service. PTAS is designed to ensure equity of access for Tasmanians to specialist medical services by assisting eligible patients with the transport and accommodation costs of accessing the medical service. This applies to a range of medical procedures only offered in Hobart or interstate, supporting equity of access. The scheme is targeted to those most in need to maximise the benefits of PTAS. The PTAS operational guidelines note 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.

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