Following several years of concerning reports, one of the UK’s largest abortion clinics has once again failed to ensure services are provided safely, putting women at risk.
The most recent inspection of BPAS Merseyside by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found multiple failures in maintaining safety standards and rated the clinic as “requires improvement”.
The report showed that some of the failures noted by the inspection in 2016 remained: “At our previous inspection in 2016 we were not assured that medicines were regularly reviewed and replaced as required. During this inspection, we found the service did not consistently follow best practice when prescribing, giving, recording and storing medicines. We found out of date medicines in the clinic rooms and on the emergency drugs trolley and the controlled drug register was not always accurately completed.”
Amongst other issues, it reported that “local governance arrangements did not ensure the identification, mitigation and monitoring of risks or the improvement of quality and patient outcomes” and that “staff did not consistently adhere to the infection prevention and control measures specified by the service.”
There were also five patients who required urgent medical care following a surgical abortion. In March 2018, the CQC were contacted by the local NHS trust who “raised concerns regarding the frequency of patients coming to them from BPAS Merseyside.”
This report yet again shows repeated breaches of safety at BPAS Merseyside.
Reports have consistently found the clinic has fallen below the standards it is required to meet. The CQC found in 2017 that 27 women were admitted to hospital to receive emergency treatment over a period of three years – 16 for serious incidents at the clinic and 11 for serious injuries.
An abortion surgeon at the clinic was also struck off the medical register last year after he was found to have endangered three women’s lives by exposing them to life-threatening conditions during abortion procedures.
Widespread breaches in abortion clinics
In England and Wales, abortion clinics are required to be regularly inspected under the Health and Social Care Act 2008.
Alongside BPAS, multiple failures have also been reported at Marie Stopes’ abortion clinics. At their clinic in Maidstone, services were described as a ‘cattle market’, where staff were incentivised to encourage women to have abortions. In Ealing, one woman died following her termination, due to suffering a tear to her uterus which had not been fully dilated. There had been “repeated failures of recording of observation by different clinicians involved in her care.”
Marie Stopes was also called to suspend its services in 2016 after the CQC carried out an unannounced inspection at its headquarters. The inspection found “dead foetuses lying in an open bin and staff trying to give a vulnerable, visibly distressed woman an abortion without her consent”.
CARE spokesperson, Naomi Marsden, commented:
“This damning report shows that, once again, BPAS Merseyside has failed to protect women. It is uncceptable that they are consistently breaching safety standards – surely this latest report should be the nail in the coffin and this clinic should be shut down.
“Consistent breaches at abortion clinics show how vital it is that they are inspected and regulated to ensure women are kept safe.
“Currently in Northern Ireland, the Government are consulting on whether to include inspection requirements in the regulatory framework they will introduce in March 2020. It is deeply concerning that, for at least the next five months, abortions in Northern Ireland are completely unregulated and can legally take place in any location, without inspections being carried out.
“For the safety and care of women, it is so important that effective inspections are put in place and BPAS Merseyside and other abortion clinics must be held to account for these failures.”
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