Privatising the South's fertility service should mean shorter
waiting times and new cutting-edge fertility procedures, the
likely future provider says.
At least the same level of service would stay in Dunedin, and
patients could go to Christchurch for very new procedures
that might over time be provided in Dunedin, Fertility
Associates chief executive Alex Price said.
Mr Price indicated the nine affected Otago Fertility Service
(OFS) jobs were likely to be safe - although he could not
give guarantees - and there might be more jobs as the service
would target more private patients.
The fertility firm contacted the Otago Daily Times
saying it wished to dispel concerns about the the Southern
District Health Board's privatisation plans.
Mr Price wanted to allay fears the relationship with the
University of Otago would be compromised. Fertility
Associates supported research and teaching roles at New
Zealand universities. Access to national databases of donors
meant waiting times would shorten.
''I understand [the wait time now] is quite lengthy. The team
that's down there do the very best they can, but they've only
got that population base to draw on, and the resources they
He believed a higher level of private demand could be tapped,
above the annual 25-30 privately funded IVF cycles OFS
By privatising the service, the board avoided a looming
regulatory cost to be introduced late next year, involving
new disposal guidelines for stored gametes and embryos.
''That's an example of a regulatory change that is coming up
which is putting quite a bit of pressure on fertility clinics
Fertility Associates provides a service for the entire South
Island apart from Otago and Southland, with the Canterbury
District Health Board the lead entity for the agreement. The
Southern DHB has indicated it wants to join other South
Island boards in a joint tender.
However, there could be no guarantees about who would end up
providing the service until the tender process was carried
out, Mr Price said. Fertility Associates was likely to lease
the facility in Dunedin, but planned to build a new facility
in due course.
Mr Price, of Auckland, was speaking to the ODT from
Malaysia, where the firm is opening a clinic early next year.
Public Service Association southern region organiser Julie
Morton said when contacted she was always cautious when
members' jobs were on the line, although Mr Price's comments
provided some assurance. She said staff had been given
conflicting information from the board about their certainty
of continuing employment, so were keenly awaiting more
Ms Morton said the teaching relationship with the university
was critical, and she believed it could be compromised by the
privatisation. Fertility was a growth area because procedures
were becoming more effective, so maintaining a teaching link
was important for Dunedin's ability to train doctors, she