Kate Devlin, Medical Correspondent
16 April 2010
One in six health care trusts in England wants to carry out the terminations in family doctors’ practices, new figures show.
Early terminations can be carried out using drugs and without surgery up until the ninth week of pregnancy.
Following two Government pilots which showed that they were both safe and effective to be given outside hospital they are allowed in GP surgeries.
The new figures show that 15 per cent of Primary Care Trusts in England have either applied for or are considering for an application for a licence to perform then in GP surgeries.
Some have been made in conjunction with the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), which already runs services offering medical terminations in GP surgeries in Wolverhampton and Newcastle.
Applications have been lodged by trusts as far apart as Bradford, North Staffordshire and Basingstoke in Hampshire.
The surgery has to be approved by both the Care Quality Commission and the Health Secretary before abortions can be carried out on the premises.
Fiona Loveless, from Marie Stopes International, said: “This type of service is not suitable for every women but some will want to be able to have an early medical abortion close to home."
But Dr Andrew Fergusson, from the Christian Medical Fellowship, warned that the move would “normalise a procedure where one life is intentionally ended.”
The applications were revealed in response to Freedom of Information requests by GP magazine.
They show that six PCTs have asked for licences to perform the procedures in GP surgeries.
Another 11 told the magazine that they were considering applying.
In total the magazine received responses from 114 of England’s 152 PCTs.
PCTs have to apply for an individual licence for each surgery where they wish the medical abortions to be carried out.
Some, including Harrow in London, said that they had applied for one licence and were considering applying for more.
At the moment GPs have to commission the service from independent providers.
However, from 2012, when GPs will become registered with the Care Quality Commission, they will be able to offer the services themselves.
Under the 1967 Abortion Act the Secretary of State for Health has to approve premises where abortions can be carried out.
Hospitals are automatically approved but after successful pilots the Government has agreed that GP surgeries can now also be used.
In 2008 there were 400 medical abortions carried out in GP surgeries run by BPAS.