Abortion procedures tightened after visits

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A YORKSHIRE hospital is among those in 14 NHS trusts where doctors “pre-signed” abortion documents before assessing whether patients met the legal requirements to have their pregnancies terminated, the health watchdog has found.

The Care Quality Commission named Bradford Royal Infirmary and Scunthorpe General Hospital in Lincolnshire as among those that were breaking the law by letting just one doctor make assessments about abortions.

The law requires two doctors to sign each form certifying that requirements for terminations have been met so abortions can take place.

But as a result of unannounced inspections, the CQC also found “clear evidence” of pre-signing at Loughborough Hospital, the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, Rochdale Infirmary, Peterborough City Hospital, the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow, Essex, Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton, Somerset, Bristol’s Central Health Clinic, Leicester General, Leicester Royal, Arrowe Park Hospital in Wirral, Hereford Hospital and Kings College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in south-east London,

The CQC said the practice had since stopped at all the hospitals, adding that it had not found evidence that any women there had poor outcomes of care.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley commissioned the CQC to conduct the inspections after it was discovered that a doctor in a private clinic was pre-signing such forms in January.

Abortion provider bpas accused Mr Lansley of “squandering” £1m – the cost of the CQC investigation.

Shadow Public Health Minister Diane Abbott added: “The CQC has blown Andrew Lansley’s weak justifications out of the water by confirming that no women had poor outcomes of care at any of the clinics that he personally ordered raids on.”

A spokeswoman from campaign group Voice For Choice said: “Voice For Choice is not surprised to hear the CQC’s investigation found the vast majority of abortion services were found to be completely compliant with law and regulations.

“Of the cases that were found to be in breach of regulations most of these cases were of errors on forms or incomplete form filling. There is no suggestion that there has been any shortfall in the care of women in these services.”