Women again put at risk in BPAS Merseyside abortion clinic, says Care Quality Commission

One of the UK’s largest abortion clinic is still putting women at risk two years after it was condemned by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) for a litany of health concerns, a report has revealed.

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) abortion clinic in Merseyside has been given the worst rating that any private abortion clinic since the new CQC rating system was introduced.

When the CQC rates abortion clinics, they ask if they are safe, effective, caring, responsive to people’s needs, and well-led. BPAS Merseyside was rated as “requires improvement” on both safety and leadership. It is the only clinic to be given such a rating since the system was introduced in September 2017.

The CQC were contacted by the local NHS trust who “raised concerns regarding the frequency of patients coming to them from BPAS Merseyside”.

Inspectors found six cases of women who “required urgent medical attention due to complications and were transferred from the service to another healthcare provider between January and December 2018.” Five of these cases were reported as serious incidents requiring further investigation.

Their report revealed “the service did not consistently follow best practice when prescribing, giving, recording and storing medicines. We found out of date medicines in the clinic rooms and on the emergency drugs trolley and the controlled drug register was not always accurately completed.”

It found that BPAS Merseyside “staff did not consistently adhere to the infection prevention and control measures specified by the service” including not washing hands, not securing clinical waste, and using out of date equipment.

In addition, risk assessments were not fully completed and the clinic did not always provide reasonable support after notifiable safety incident, in line with the Health and Social Care Act 2008.

This is not the first time that the Care Quality Commission has raised concerns about the care given to women at BPAS Merseyside.

Last year, a surgeon contracted by the clinic was struck off the medical register for exposing patients to the risk of life-threatening conditions during abortions. James Olobo-Lalobo was found by medical practitioners tribunal to have endangered at least three women’s lives during abortions carried out in May and June 2017.

In 2017, the CQC found 16 serious incidents had occurred in which patients were admitted to hospital for emergency treatment over a period of three years. Over the same period, 11 women were transferred for emergency hospital treatment after suffering serious injuries, including eight cases in a 15 month period from January 2015 – March 2016.

A catalogue of health and safety risks were also identified, such as infection control procedures not always being followed during abortion procedures and drug syringes were left without a cap or needle on the end, presenting a risk of cross-infection. No effective systems were in place to ensure resuscitation equipment was regularly checked to protect patients from avoidable harm, and incidents not being properly investigated.

BPAS Merseyside performed 4,585 terminations placing it among the top 10 abortion providers in the country, in 2018.

In 2016, Marie Stopes International (MSI) was forced to suspend abortion services for a month after an unannounced inspection by the CQC “found dead foetuses lying in an open bin and staff trying to give a vulnerable, visibly distressed woman an abortion without her consent”.

Following the suspension of MSI abortion services last year, BPAS’s Chief Executive, Ann Furedi, said, “a failure of clinical governance in an organisation that is a specialist provider of abortion services is of the utmost seriousness and I would expect to see it being treated as a resignation issue for the chief executive.”

Right To Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson said:

“Yet again we are confronted with the callous disregard for health and safety from the abortion industry. Yet again the two largest abortion providers, who receive tens of millions of pounds of taxpayer money annually, have been found to be placing the health and safety of their patients at risk.

“The Care Quality Commission says this clinic requires improvement but the only real improvement that can be made to abortion clinics, for the lives of both women and unborn babies, would be for them to be closed.”

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