The Care Quality Commission has today published the findings of the inspections it carried out on abortion clinics earlier this year. The report finds that 14 of the 249 clinics inspected were found to have been 'pre-signing' abortion certification paperwork.
The CQC report states that it "did not find any evidence that any women had poor outcomes of care at any of these locations".
Responding to the report's publication, Abortion Rights said:
"The handling of this affair raises serious questions about Andrew Lansley's judgement when it comes to abortion services. Long before today's report was published he was telling journalists that he was shocked and appalled at possible wrongdoing by abortion providers and warning that criminal charges may be brought.
This was a politically motivated attack on abortion providers, ordered by Andrew Lansley to appease a small number of Conservative backbenchers who wish to see access to abortion severely restricted.
The result of this investigation has been to undermine women's trust in abortion services and to create fear and confusion among doctors which is now causing delays to patient care."
Diane Abbott MP, Labour’s shadow public health minister, commented:
"This report shows that Andrew Lansley has yet again put political interests ahead of British patient care. We have a government chasing headlines, chasing shadows, and chasing the narrow political interests of the right-wing of the Tory party.
The CQC has blown Andrew Lansley’s weak justifications out of the water by confirming that no women had poor outcomes of care at any of the clinics that he personally ordered raids on.
What is beginning to emerge from this report looks like a dark, sordid and politically charged campaign against care providers, doctors and British women’s right to choose."
In a statement for the Voice for Choice coalition, Lisa Hallgarten said:
"The unprecedented investigation seems to be part of a general attempt to discredit abortion services by some elements of the media and some politicians. Over recent weeks these people have been quick, pre-emptively, to claim that the CQC investigations showed that women were being let down. The results of the investigation show no such thing."
She continued: "The CQC is right to provide clarification for doctors on what is and is not good practice. However, we deplore the effect this highly politicised and publicised investigation has had on those providing abortion. It has created a climate of fear amongst doctors and made some reorganise their services in ways that are actually creating delays for women and additional costs to the NHS."
Andrew Lansley came under fire for his handling of the affair in March, when it was revealed that the checks on clinics had cost £1 million and had caused the cancellation of over 500 scheduled CQC inspections. He was accused by Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham of 'chasing headlines' after briefing journalists on the inspections and speculating on possible criminal proceedings before the investigation was completed.
Read our statement in full.