Government regulators have closed some services of a leading abortion provider in the United Kingdom, citing vague concerns about “corporate and clinical governance arrangements and patient safety protocols in specific areas”.
After a surprise visit from Care Quality Commission inspectors, Marie Stopes, the “UK's largest reproductive health charity”, has had to suspend terminations for under-18s and vulnerable groups of women, terminations under general anaesthetic or conscious sedation, and all surgical terminations at its Norwich centre.
The CQC announced in March that it would carry out inspections of all stand-alone abortion clinics in the UK before the end of September. It wanted to confirm that the clinics were “safe, effective, caring, responsive to people's needs and well-led”. Presumably the Marie Stopes clinics failed to meet these requirements.
The restrictions will remain in place until Marie Stopes satisfies the CQC that its concerns have been allayed. "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," said Professor Edward Baker, of the CQC.
Marie Stopes performs about 250 surgical abortions a week in the UK. Women who have already booked in are being transferred to other providers.
"We'd like to reassure people that our other services remain unaffected,” said Simon Cooke, Marie Stopes International CEO. “Each year 70,000 women are treated within our centres [in the UK], and our clinical outcomes continue to outperform the national average.”
Marie Stopes International’s motto is “Children by Choice, not Chance”. In 2015, according to its recent global impact report, it was responsible for 3.4 million abortions around the world. Under Cooke, who worked as the CEO of a global shaving products company until 2013, Marie Stopes has pursued an “aggressive growth” strategy.
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