The Health Complaints Commissioner (HCC) is calling for public submissions as part of an inquiry into unsafe and unethical practices by In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) and Assisted Reproductive Treatment (ART) service providers.
Health Complaints Commissioner Karen Cusack said the inquiry would include wide-ranging consultation and community engagement with members of the public who had utilised ART and/or IVF services, along with service providers.
“We’re in the process of developing a discussion paper, which will address a series of questions about the inquiry and invite submissions from ART and IVF clients (including third-party submissions from family members or friends) and from service providers,” Ms Cusack said.
“It’s important that we gather information from both people who have utilised these services as well as providers themselves. Anyone wishing to remain anonymous may do so.
“I understand that it may be distressing for people who have used ART/IVF services to discuss their experiences, however I can assure anyone who contacts my office that they will be treated with sensitivity and confidentiality. We will ensure absolute anonymity of any person’s identity if they express their desire to remain confidential.
“Any person who has previously lodged a complaint with our office may also wish to make a submission.”
Ms Cusack said that if, as part of the inquiry, individual cases were identified that the HCC believes should be investigated, then a separate investigation may be conducted and, where appropriate, action could be taken against individual providers.
She said the HCC would work with Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) on any consumer law matters arising out of the inquiry, such as matters of false, misleading and deceptive conduct, which fall under CAV’s jurisdiction.
Ms Cusack said the HCC would deliver a final report to the Victorian Government following the conclusion of the inquiry, which the Minister for Health referred to the HCC earlier this month under section 103 of the Health Complaints Act 2016.
The report may include recommendations to the Minister, she said.
As soon as available, the discussion paper will be on the HCC’s website. Anyone who has registered, will be sent a copy of the discussion paper.
Anyone seeking more information about the inquiry, or about making a submission, is invited to contact the HCC on 1300 582 113.