The Care Quality Commission (CQC) and NHS England are working with Marie Stopes International to make sure that patients are protected from potential harm when undergoing pregnancy terminations.
Following CQC’s inspections of Marie Stopes International’s services and its corporate headquarters in England, the regulator has raised concerns about the provider’s corporate and clinical governance arrangements and patient safety protocols in specific areas.
CQC has outlined these concerns to Marie Stopes International and in response, Marie Stopes International has:
- Suspended termination of pregnancy provision for under-18s and vulnerable groups of women.
- Suspended terminations under general anaesthetic or conscious sedation.
- Suspended all surgical terminations at their Norwich centre.
While these restrictions respond to the most serious concerns CQC has raised, CQC will continue to monitor the situation very closely and will not hesitate to take regulatory action, if necessary.
CQC requires these restrictions to remain in place until Marie Stopes International has assured the regulator that it has appropriate systems in place to care for all of its patients safely.
Professor Edward Baker, Deputy Chief Inspector of Hospitals at the Care Quality Commission, 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.
"We will report fully and publicly on our inspection findings as soon as our regulatory process has concluded and we are able to do so."
In response to the issues identified by CQC and the actions taken by Marie Stopes International, NHS England has activated contingency arrangements to ensure that all patients seeking the services that are currently suspended receive safe and high-quality care.
This will mean diverting around 250 women a week to other providers and it has established a confidential helpline service for those with concerns and questions. This number is 0300 123 1041 (9am to 5pm at the weekends and 9am to 8pm during the week). In Ireland the number to call is 1800 882 677.
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 from Marie Stopes International will take effect immediately. Patients who have been booked in already for procedures that have now been restricted are being contacted so they receive their care at an alternative provider.
CQC will report on its findings fully once it publishes its inspection reports of the services provided by Marie Stopes International and its corporate headquarters in the autumn.
Furthermore, the Government has informed Marie Stopes International that Ministers will not give approval for further clinics – in accordance with their statutory role – to offer termination services until the CQC are satisfied that their concerns have been fully addressed.
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