Marie Stopes International has said that it is exploring legal options after the Daily Mail published a front-page attack on its services this morning.
It has published the transcripts of phone calls between reporters and Marie Stopes call centre staff, where the reporters were told that they would not have to see two doctors on the day they arrived for a termination.
In a comment piece the Mail said this amounted to “slapdash, production-line procedures” which make a “shameful mockery of the law that requires two doctors independently to approve a termination before it can go ahead”.
Last summer concerns were raised by the Care Quality Commission last year about certain procedures at Marie Stopes, which led to a temporary suspension of certain types of procedure. Restrictions were lifted in the autumn but the CQC said it would continue to monitor the charity.
Today Edward Barker, deputy chief inspector of hospitals at the CQC, said: "We took action against Marie Stopes International following our inspections in 2016. We have been monitoring them very closely since and very recently re-inspected its corporate headquarters for England to review its progress. We will report on our findings as soon as we are able to.
"Should we have any concerns about patient safety, we will not hesitate to take further action, to guarantee this provider meets the standard of care we expect and that its patients deserve."
‘Irresponsible journalism’ says Marie Stopes
This morning Marie Stopes issued a statement accusing the Mail of “irresponsible journalism” and saying that its processes are in line with the Abortion Act and Department of Health’s Required Standard Operating Procedures.
Paul McPartlan, managing director at Mare Stopes UK, said: “We do not agree with the conclusions this journalist has reached, which give a seriously misleading view of how our services operate. No reporter in this investigation went through the legal admission process that women must go through before receiving an abortion, so their claims are based on a partial view of the process.
He added that after the CQC inspections last year the “we have worked extensively to address these concerns and make ongoing improvements”.
McPartlan said: “No abortion is carried out in our clinics unless two doctors are satisfied that the legal requirements have been fulfilled, the woman has understood her treatment and consented to the procedure during a face to face appointment with a registered nurse, and there are no medical reasons why it shouldn’t proceed.”
He also said that the CQC had praised the charity’s helpline service and that: “We recognise that there will always be more to do. However, irresponsible journalism like this needlessly worries women in need of abortion services, and undermines the efforts of organisations like ours to deliver a high-quality service.
“We have sought legal advice and will be exploring appropriate legal action.”