Abortion clinic checks cost £1 million

Urgent checks of abortion clinics ordered by the health secretary last month cost £1 million and meant hundreds of other inspections were cancelled.Abortion clinic checks cost £1 millionThe Care Quality Commission (CQC) said the request at short notice from the Department of Health meant 580 pre-planned inspections were cancelled.

Time spent on planning and inspecting equated to 1,100 days, it said.

The department said the inspections had been agreed between the CQC and the health secretary.

It added that if the regulator had said more money was needed, it would have been provided.

The inspectors visited nearly 300 abortion providers in England over three days in March, and found about 50 were not complying with laws or regulations.

Several doctors were referred to the General Medical Council, and police have been investigating too, to establish whether criminal offences have been committed.

In a letter to the Department of Health, CQC chairwoman Dame Jo Williams said the urgent inspections have had “a considerable impact on our capacity to deliver our annual targets”.

“Such a request at short notice entails Operations management time in planning the visits, cancelling pre-planned inspections as well as the compliance inspector time in carrying out the visits and drafting the reports.”

Dame Jo outlined the impact on scheduled activity in the letter, saying that 320 locations would require visits, with the total number of days required – including for planning and management – being 1,100.

“This equates to a total of 580 inspections foregone and a total of 16 inspectors being utilised on a full year basis at an estimated cost of £1.0 million,” she wrote.

She also asked that the department take into account such an impact on planned work “when considering future requests and delivery within a time limited period”.

The work of abortion clinics first came under the spotlight in February when the Daily Telegraph secretly filmed doctors and alleged some were agreeing to terminate foetuses when women did not want their baby because of its gender.

Police are investigating the allegations.

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