Abortion services at Marie Stopes' Belfast clinic have been hit after the organisation suspended many of its terminations following safety concerns raised by standards watchdog the Care Quality Commission.
Surgical abortions for girls under 18 and vulnerable women, terminations under general anaesthetic or conscious sedation, and the suspension of all surgical terminations at the group’s Norwich centre have all been suspended.
In Northern Ireland, under-18s will no longer be able to access Marie Stopes’ services, and alternative arrangements are being put in place for women travelling to England to have a termination.
Simon Cooke, chief Executive, Marie Stopes International, said: “As of today Marie Stopes UK has agreed with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to voluntarily suspend some of its termination of pregnancy services.
“This is to allow Marie Stopes UK to resolve areas of concern in its training and governance procedures. We are working urgently with the CQC on these areas and intend to regain full assurance within a few days.
“Alongside this, our immediate priority is to make sure that women booked into one of our affected services are rebooked swiftly into alternative local services, and we are working closely with NHS England to ensure that this happens.”
A spokeswoman for NHS England said last night that extensive contingency planning been implemented as a result of the news, and offered a message of reassurance to Northern Ireland women who had been planning to travel to England for pregnancy terminations from Marie Stopes International.
“No one will be left stranded,” she added.
“There are detailed contingency plans in place to ensure that alternative arrangements with other providers are in place for women who have appointments for surgical procedures.”
Other providers may include the British Pregnancy Advisory Service or local hospitals.