Unable to compete with private sector

Confidential advice to Southern District Health Board members deciding whether to privatise the South's fertility service says strong competition from the private sector contributed to making an in-house service unviable.

The Otago Fertility Service (OFS) provides privately-funded IVF cycles as well as public procedures, and its clinical director Prof Wayne Gillett had urged an increase in private patients to ensure the service was financially secure.

However, it will be privatised, board members decided behind closed doors on November 6.

Released this week under the Official Information Act, a management report suggests the Dunedin-based service could not compete with private sector competition.

Private provider Fertility Associates, which is seen as likely to win the contract for the southern service, has a satellite clinic in Queenstown. Citing commercial sensitivity, the board withheld the report's detailed financial analysis.

The service was already not meeting target volumes for private patients.

''The service did not meet the revenue target from private patients last year, and are behind target [year-to-date].

''Other providers of tertiary fertility services are accepting private patients in Queenstown and Invercargill, resulting in reduced numbers of private referrals to OFS, which is based predominantly in Dunedin.''

The facility also needed an upgrade, and faced increased regulatory requirements and workforce pressures.

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