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‘Continuity risk’ to abortion services triggers national intervention

NHS England has told integrated care board (ICBs) leaders they must intervene over failures in abortion services in their patches amid “unprecedented demand” for such provision, HSJ has learned.

NICE guidance states people should be assessed within a week of requesting an abortion, while procedures should take place within a week of assessment.

However, NHSE said in a letter to ICBs today that “significant service pressures” have driven up waiting times for surgical abortions – approximately 13% of procedures – to three weeks or longer.

NHSE has told ICBs to work with providers to, by July 2024:

  • Respond to cases of “acute service disruption” and instances where rising waiting times risk limiting access to services;
  • Establish referral pathways and procedures to ensure smooth transfers of care between independent and NHS providers when required;
  • Ensure contracts for 2024-25 are sustainable and follow guidance in the NHS payment scheme; and
  • Commission services in a more managed and collaborative way, including coordination of provision locally to bring waiting times in line with NICE standards.

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: HSJ, 12 March 2024


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