The new private provider to deliver low-cost surgical abortions in Tasmania is on schedule to start taking referrals in the coming weeks.
The provider has commenced discussions with the Prescribed Health Organisations and I have received positive feedback from that engagement.
Primary Health Tasmania is inviting GPs to participate in the development of the Health Pathway for the service this week. This will ensure GPs have the information they need to refer patients to this service.
The service is in line with the advice I prepared that was tabled in Parliament and is in fact a better service, with the provider committing to provide phone consultations with all women before they attend the clinic. This has not occurred before.
The name of the private provider and the surgical facility will not be released publicly, at the request of the provider, and women seeking this service should speak with their GP or the prescribed health organisations. This is to protect the privacy of not just the provider, but importantly women seeking this service.
The provider will then consult directly with those referred to the service, and will be scheduling the provision of surgical terminations over coming weeks – in accordance with need.
Based on an assessment of likely demand, the service will initially comprise fortnightly clinics and this may increase to weekly, depending on demand.
The service will charge a standard fee of $475, which is less than the service it replaces, in the first year. That will be subject to review in later years to take into account factors such as medical rebates and costs.
While it has taken longer than initially expected for the private provider to reach agreement with a local surgical facility, I am pleased that this is much closer and am hopeful that it will be finalised shortly.
The Patient Transport and Travel Assistance Scheme will be available for intrastate travel to the service and the Department will also provide increased funding to Prescribed Health Services, and Pregnancy Counselling and Support Tasmania, to ensure longstanding arrangements to support women continue.
In addition to this, the State Government will be providing government assistance with travel and accommodation costs relating to the provider. Details around any assistance negotiated to secure the service will be made public once all arrangements are finalised.