Exclusive: GPs to offer abortions in 15% of PCTs

Applications to carry out abortions in GP practices have been made or are under consideration in 15 per cent of PCTs, a GP investigation has found.

Eleven PCT providers are considering applying for EMA licence
Eleven PCT providers are considering applying for EMA licence

Licences to perform early medical abortions (EMAs) in GP practices in England have been requested in six PCTs.

In a further 11 PCTs providers are considering applying for a licence, according to a GP freedom of information request which received responses from 114 PCTs and data from the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS). The applications have been made either by PCTs themselves or by BPAS.

BPAS runs abortion services in GP practices in Wolverhampton and Newcastle. The charity has applied to run a similar service in Basingstoke, Hampshire, and is considering setting up services in other areas.

Ann Furedi, BPAS chief executive, said her organisation had been working with PCTs on providing EMAs in GP settings. 'We hope GPs who are keen and able to provide EMA in their facilities continue to support this work.'

Marie Stopes International said it would welcome anything to increase women's choice.

'However, there would need to be agreement from all GPs working in a practice for such a service to work, especially with regard to routine follow up plus advice and treatment in the small number of complications that may occur,' its senior medical adviser Dr Asma Khalid said.

West London GP Dr Sarah Jarvis, RCGP women's health spokeswoman, said it would not be appropriate for most practices to provide EMAs. But she said one practice per PCT might be reasonable.

Dr Andrew Fergusson, of the Christian Medical Fellowship, said that many GPs and patients would object to providing abortions in practices. Provision of abortion in non-traditional settings sought to 'normalise a procedure where one life is intentionally ended', he said.

Merseyside GP Dr Eithne MacRae said she was 'saddened but not surprised' by plans for EMA provision in practices.

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