Monday, March 26, 2012

A scandal twice over

You may remember a Telegraph undercover investigation filmed doctors arranging abortions for women who said they wanted an abortion because their baby was the "wrong" sex. (Abortions because of the sex of the baby are illegal in Britain.)

Details were passed to Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, who ordered an investigation. Inspectors from the regulator, the Care Quality Commission, paid unannounced visits to 250 private and NHS clinics, and apparently found, according to the Telegraph, that more than 50 were "not in compliance" with the law or regulations. Patients were not receiving acceptable levels of advice and counselling, and doctors were regularly falsifying consent forms.

The law says that consent forms are required to be signed by the supervising consultant and by a second professional who has either seen the patient or read the medical notes and the summary of a consultation. Inspectors are said to have found piles of "pre-signed" forms, indicating that doctors were signing forms without even knowing which women the forms related to.

The Health Secretary said he was "shocked" and "appalled." Action would be taken. He said clinics could be stripped of their licences to perform abortions and doctors could be struck off by the General Medical Council.

If Mr Lansley was genuinely unaware of what was happening in abortion clinics, he must have been one of the few people who were. Misuse of consent forms has long been an open secret.

For too long there has been too cosy an arrangement between the Government and the abortion industry. What has gone on in abortion clinics is a scandal. The way the Government has for years turned a blind eye to it is an even greater scandal.