The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has recently completed a programme of inspection of all abortion providers and as a result has raised concerns about services provided by Marie Stopes UK. The inspectors highlighted poor governance arrangements, leading to what they called "specific immediate concerns" about consent and safeguarding.
The inspections also demonstrated weaknesses in training and competence for delivery of terminations under general anaesthetic or conscious sedation at Marie Stopes.
Marie Stopes responded by:
• suspending termination of pregnancy provision for under 19s and vulnerable adults
• suspending terminations under general anaesthetic or conscious sedation
• suspending all surgical terminations at its Norwich centre
NHS England has said publicly it would be helping women to find alternative abortion providers in the meantime and has set up a confidential helpline for anyone with concerns or questions, on 0300 123 1041 (9am to 5pm at the weekends and 9am to 8pm during the week).
BPAS was approached by NHS England to help them ensure access to services for women affected, which means we need to provide treatment for an estimated additional 250-350 cases per week.
Women seeking abortion care and those referring them into services can be reassured that BPAS has been subjected to the same inspections as Marie Stopes and CQC have not raised similar concerns with our service. BPAS is working with NHS England and the Care Quality Commission, at their request, to ensure that the impact of this situation on women seeking abortion is minimal. Our staff and clinics are doing everything possible to prevent delays in treatment at this time, while continuing to provide our high quality service.
Where we already have a contract, this will continue as at present, however there will be a shift in the proportion of treatments provided by BPAS. There may be some short term impact on waiting times while we mobilise the significant increase in surgical capacity that is required, but it is anticipated that this will resolve within a few weeks. These restrictions also mean BPAS will be undertaking a higher proportion of 2nd trimester procedures.
BPAS will be providing treatment under arrangements through NHS England for CCGs in a small number of areas where we do not currently have contracts.
BPAS service development managers have been redirected to assist in managing our capacity during this period, but if you should have any concerns or queries, please contact: Rosemary Cutmore, BPAS National Business Development Director in the first instance at firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: 01789 265803.
bpas is a charity which sees more than 70,000 women a year and provides reproductive healthcare services including pregnancy counselling, abortion care, miscarriage management and contraception, at clinics across the UK. It supports and advocates for reproductive choice. More information can be found at bpas.org.