GPs 'won't work in polyclinics offering abortion'

A quarter of all GPs could refuse to work in polyclinics if the DoH pushes ahead with plans to offer pregnancy terminations in the community, the chairman of the Christian Medical Fellowship has warned.

South London GP Dr Trevor Stammers told GP in south London, says that one in four GPs refuses to sign termination referral forms and would be put off working in polyclinics that performed abortions.

Last year, a poll of 309 GPs found that 24 per cent would not sign the referral forms.

The warning follows the results of a DoH pilot study, involving more than 900 women, which looked at offering women early medical abortions (EMAs) in non-traditional settings.

The study found that community contraceptive centres and polyclinics could offer 'a safe, high-quality service' for women wanting a termination.

The DoH is considering the plans as a way to reduce the number of women waiting longer than 10 weeks for a termination.

But Dr Stammers said: 'The idea may go down well with the public but it will make life difficult for GPs who are reluctant to carry out abortions.

'In my practice, more than half of the 10 GPs are unwilling to sign the abortion form.'

Dr Stammers accused the 'pro-abortion lobby' of pushing for terminations to be performed in the community because many obstetrics and gynaecology staff were refusing to do abortions.

The pilot study investigated whether non-hospital settings could be used to carry out EMAs - classified as termination of a pregnancy within the first nine weeks using drugs.

Three abortion clinics also took part in the study to enable comparisons to be made between the pilot sites and the traditional providers.

Overall, 62 per cent of women who had an EMA at the pilot sites said that it was a positive move to provide terminations in community settings.

Public health minister Dawn Primarolo said the DoH would consult 'the local NHS and patients to find out whether there is a demand for such a service and how it could be delivered'.

sanjay.tanday@haymarket.com

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