Legislative Council: Thursday, March 09, 2023


Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. T.A. Franks:

That this council—

1. Notes that—

(a) transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is an effective treatment option for some people with major depression:

(b) in 2018, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists recommended that 'TMS should be accessible in private and public mental health services and made available in addition to the current spectrum of treatment options';

(c) in 2022, the Prescribed Psychiatric Treatment Panel, a part of the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist of SA Health, recommended that TMS be introduced into public mental health services as a first-line treatment ahead of the significantly more disruptive electroconvulsive therapy;

(d) the inclusion of TMS in the range of options available under the public health system would ensure that people have access to suitable treatments that allow them to continue living their lives; and

2. Calls on the health minister to ensure that TMS is made available to South Australians by including it in our public health system.

(Continued from 8 February 2023.)

The Hon. S.L. GAME (16:43): I rise in support of this motion introducing transcranial magnetic stimulation as a local public mental health treatment option. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) has been assisting private mental health patients since 2012 at the Adelaide Clinic, a private mental health treatment facility. This method of therapy was added to the Medicare schedule in 2019 and, as the honourable member mentioned in her speech, TMS has been viewed by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists as a preferred initial option for patients with treatment-resistant major depression since 2018.

A TMS machine costs approximately $80,000 and is operated by a nurse, whereas the current public option, electroconvulsive therapy, must be conducted by a GP, a psychiatrist and an anaesthetist. This would create substantial savings in the treatment of some mental health issues. Patients undergoing TMS have zero downtime. They are better able to continue regular activities as their illness allows. By comparison, electroconvulsive therapy is hugely invasive and can lead to two months off regular duties due to the aggressive nature of deliberately inducing seizures.

Multiple international peer-reviewed studies have shown TMS can prevent an escalation of depression, suicidal ideation and death by suicide. Why is this not already amalgamated into the South Australian public health system? The Adelaide Clinic has a substantial waitlist for private patients wanting TMS therapy. Private mental health pathways are not within the reach of everyone who needs them, and this should be publicly accessible.

I understand advocates with real-life experience have written to the current and prior health ministers outlining the health benefits and cost savings of TMS. They believe this should be immediately amalgamated into the South Australian public health system, and I agree. One Nation recognises that all South Australians deserve access to the best mental health treatments currently available.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. L.A. Henderson.