GPs 'won't work in polyclinics offering abortions'

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

Dr Trevor Stammers, who is also a GP in south London, says that one in four GPs refuses to sign abortion 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 abortion referral forms.

The warning follows the results of a DoH pilot study, involving over 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 an abortion.

The DoH is considering the plans as a way of reducing the time women have to wait for an abortion.

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

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

The abortion lobby is pushing for abortions to be performed in the community because many obstetrics and gynaecology staff are voting with their feet and refusing to do abortions, added Dr Stammers.

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

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

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

Public health minister Dawn Primarolo, said that the DoH would now be ‘consulting with the local NHS and patients to find out whether there is a demand for such a service and how it could best be delivered'.

sanjay.tanday@haymarket.com

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