Surgical abortions have been suspended at Marie Stopes clinics

Concerns raised over consent issues and general anaesthesia

Matt Payton
Saturday 20 August 2016 12:27
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Marie Stopes International's headquarters in central London underwent an unannounced CQC inspection in July
Marie Stopes International's headquarters in central London underwent an unannounced CQC inspection in July

Surgical abortions on vulnerable women and girls under 18 have been suspended at Marie Stopes International (MSI) clinics, one of the UK's leading abortion providers.

The suspension follows an unannounced inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) at MSI's headquarters in July and at their call centre on 12 August which raised concerns over patients' safety.

The CQC has stated the 250 clients will be sent elsewhere "to make sure that patients are protected from potential harm when undergoing pregnancy terminations".

Other services suspended at the provider's clinics include terminations under general anaesthetic and conscious sedation. All surgical terminations at their Norwich centre have also been suspended.

The CQC identified concerns related to poor governance arrangements with specific concerns relating to the lack of assurance in areas such as consent and safeguarding and the lack of assurance over competence in conscious sedation and general anaesthesia.

Professor Edward Baker, deputy chief inspector of hospitals at CQC, said: "Given the nature of the concerns we identified on our inspections, it is right that Marie Stopes International has suspended a number of its services.

"At all times, our priority is to ensure that patients get safe, high-quality and compassionate care. We believe that the action taken is appropriate to address our concerns.

"We will continue to monitor these services very closely and we will not hesitate to take further action, if needed."

Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS England's national medical director, said: "This will be an anxious time for those women affected and we are taking immediate action to ensure everybody involved has access to the appropriate confidential advice and services."

The restrictions will take effect immediately and NHS England has set up a confidential helpline on 0300 123 1041 from 9am to 5pm at weekends and 9am to 8pm during the week.

MSI's chief executive, Simon Cooke, said: “As of today Marie Stopes UK has agreed with the Care Quality Commission to voluntarily suspend some of its termination of pregnancy services.

"This is to allow Marie Stopes UK to resolve areas of concern in its training and governance procedures. We are working urgently with the CQC on these areas and intend to regain full assurance within a few days.

“Alongside this, our immediate priority is to make sure that women booked into one of our affected services are rebooked swiftly into alternative local services and we are working closely with NHS England to ensure that this happens.

“We’d like to reassure people that our other services remain unaffected. Each year 70,000 women are treated within our centres, and our clinical outcomes continue to outperform the national average."

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