Clin­i­cal guide­lines to be is­sued next week

Harris re­states ‘ab­so­lute com­mit­ment’ to in­tro­duce abor­tion in Jan­uary Boy­lan ad­mits ser­vice will not be per­fect from the begin­ning

The Irish Times - - News Agenda - JEN­NIFER BRAY Po­lit­i­cal Re­porter

Mile­stone clin­i­cal guide­lines for the pro­vi­sion of abor­tion ser­vices are set to be cir­cu­lated next week.

Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials are hop­ing the cir­cu­la­tion of the guide­lines will help to ad­dress some of the con­cerns that have been aired to date about the planned in­tro­duc­tion date of Jan­uary 1st for abor­tion ser­vices.

Se­nior doc­tors, in­clud­ing a for­mer mas­ter of the Coombe Women and In­fants Univer­sity Hos­pi­tal, Prof Chris Fitzpatrick, have com­plained that the lack of pub­lished guide­lines has left med­i­cal prac­ti­tion­ers in an “in­for­ma­tion vac­uum”.

Prof Fitzpatrick claimed rush­ing the ser­vice into op­er­a­tion posed “a se­ri­ous threat to the health and well­be­ing of women”.

While fi­nal clin­i­cal guide­lines will only be re­leased once the Reg­u­la­tion of Ter­mi­na­tion of Preg­nancy Bill is passed into law, sources have said a draft of the plans is ready and will be cir­cu­lated.

A meet­ing of key med­i­cal fig­ures is to be held on Mon­day, where it is ex­pected the HSE will brief se­nior clin­i­cians on the up­dated plans for the roll­out of the ser­vices.

Minister for Health Si­mon Harris will open the meet­ing, which will be at­tended by ma­ter­nity hos­pi­tal masters, the Ir­ish Col­lege of Gen­eral Prac­ti­tion­ers and the In­sti­tute of Ob­ste­tri­cians and Gy­nae­col­o­gists.


Med­i­cal Coun­cil guide­lines will also have to be up­dated once the Bill be­comes law.

Mr Harris said the Gov­ern­ment was pro­ceed­ing with plans for a Jan­uary in­tro­duc­tion date.

Dr Peter Boy­lan, who was ap­pointed to help the Gov­ern­ment in­tro­duce the ser­vices, has called on doc­tors to “work to­gether” to en­sure this hap­pens.

A spokes­woman for Mr Harris said it re­mained his “ab­so­lute com­mit­ment to bring in ser­vices in Jan­uary. As ref­er­enced by Dr Boy­lan, delays to the ser­vice will re­sult in more women hav­ing to travel abroad”.

She added: “The Minister ac­cepts some med­i­cal prac­ti­tion­ers are raising gen­uine con­cerns and he is com­mit­ted to work­ing with them to ad­dress those is­sues.

“How­ever, the Minister’s com­mit­ment to pro­vid­ing care for women in this coun­try will not wa­ver. He be­lieves there should be no un­nec­es­sary delays to the in­tro­duc­tion of this ser­vice.

“The Minister knows clin­i­cians will con­tinue to pro­vide lead­er­ship on this is­sue. The Minister looks for­ward to en­gag­ing with the var­i­ous stake­hold­ers at a meet­ing this Mon­day.”

Dr Boy­lan said yesterday that the ser­vice would not be per­fect from the begin­ning, but it would be pos­si­ble to de­liver the care for women.


“It should be op­er­a­tional, but that will de­pend pri­mar­ily on the doc­tor be­ing will­ing to pro­vide the ser­vice. In­evitably there will be hic­cups, that is to be ex­pected. I think a lot of this is just anx­i­ety about change. If ev­ery­one works to­gether on this, women can ben­e­fit from this ser­vice be­ing in place on time.”

Some mem­bers of the In­sti­tute of Ob­ste­tri­cians and Gy­nae­col­o­gists, the na­tional pro­fes­sional and train­ing body, have called for an ex­tra­or­di­nary gen­eral meet­ing of the or­gan­i­sa­tion to de­bate a mo­tion that the im­ple­men­ta­tion of abor­tion leg­is­la­tion “can­not” com­mence next month and “should not take place un­til these risks are ad­dressed”.

In a state­ment yesterday, the in­sti­tute said it was de­vel­op­ing draft guide­lines in an­tic­i­pa­tion of the in­tro­duc­tion of abor­tion leg­is­la­tion but em­pha­sised it had no role or re­spon­si­bil­ity in the de­liv­ery of ser­vices, which was the re­mit of the HSE.

How­ever, it said mem­bers were en­ti­tled to ex­press an opin­ion, par­tic­u­larly as to the safety and readi­ness of such ser­vices.

Chris Fitzpatrick: cau­tioned against rush­ing ser­vice into op­er­a­tion

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