In October 2022, Family Planning Tasmania clinics commenced a new MTOP-in-one service. This new service means that a medication termination of pregnancy (AKA abortion), including ultrasound, can be provided in one appointment instead of three for some people.
As part of the service, trained Family Planning Tasmania doctors provide a bedside ultrasound to date the pregnancy and to ensure intrauterine (in the uterus/womb) pregnancy.
The MTOP-in-one appointment cuts the time needed to deliver an MTOP by over 50%, reducing the number of appointments and overall cost of the service for the patient (there is no additional cost for the ultrasound). It means we are better able to meet the demand for the service and turn fewer patients away.
Avoiding an external ultrasound is another benefit of the MTOP-in-one service; many patients have reported that booking, waiting for and attending an external ultrasound can cause additional stress, cost and delay to the process.
In the first month of operation, we provided 39 MTOPs in a single appointment to eligible patients (those who were sure of their decision to proceed and were between 6-9 weeks gestation).
Some of these patients seen by our clinics during October would previously have been turned away due to lack of time/appointments to provide the service before the 9-week legal cut-off for MTOP and would have had to be referred for a surgical termination.
A further four Family Planning Tasmania doctors completed ultrasound training in January 2023 and are now providing in-house ultrasounds for their medication termination patients. This brings the total number of doctors providing ultrasounds state-wide to twelve, allowing us to expand our new MTOP-in-one appointment service further.
70% of all medication terminations at Family Planning Tasmania are now provided in a single (rather long!) appointment, helping us provide the service to more people that need it before the legal 9-week cut-off.
Family Planning Tasmania has seen an increase in patients of 30% since the service was introduced and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. As well as time saved, total out-of-pocket costs for all patients have decreased, making access to terminations more affordable.
Contraception is a priority at Family Planning Tasmania, and many patients who choose to do so can also receive an Implanon (contraceptive implant) or other contraception at the same appointment.
We are planning to further expand the service in 2023. We are thankful for state government funding to allow us to set up the service and help reduce barriers to accessing termination services in Tasmania.