'Several hundred' abortions carried out at GP practices
By Lilian Anekwe
Exclusive: Several hundred early medical abortions have been carried out in GP surgeries in the year since the first GP practice was licensed to offer the service, Pulse has learned.
The British Pregnancy Advisory Service estimates close to 400 early medical abortions were carried out at two GP surgeries between August 2008 and July 2009.
BPAS has run clinics providing termination services for women less than nine weeks pregnant at a medical practice in Wolverhampton since summer 2008 and another in Newcastle since April 2009.
The Care Quality Commission is currently considering a further application to host a service at a practice in Basingstoke. GP abortion services are being considered by several other PCTs, and a Department of Health consultation on their provision is ongoing.
The figure delivered in GP surgeries is a tiny proportion of the early medical abortions provided by BPAS, the leading provider of abortions in the UK, which carried out more than 5,000 procedures between January and July this year alone.
Anti-abortion campaigners have argued offering abortions in primary care would lead to a surge in demand for procedures.
But Dr Peter Ilves, a GP in Roehampton, south-west London, and a commissioner for NHS Wandsworth, said: ‘It's not true that because you have the availability you have more abortions. It will give an increased opportunity to women who find there are barriers to getting an abortion.'
Ann Furedi, chief executive of BPAS, said: ‘Take-up of BPAS's early medical abortion services in GP surgeries has been encouraging. But providing this service is not simply a question of offering medication – it requires round-the-clock support, so it remains to be seen how many GPs may wish to offer it.'The BPAS estimates almost 400 early medical abortions were carried out at two GP surgeries between August 2008 and July 2009 The BPAS estimates almost 400 early medical abortions were carried out at two GP surgeries between August 2008 and July 2009