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Health Secretary defends decision to investigate abortion clinics

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley was right to ask for an urgent inspection of abortion clinics by the Care Quality Commission, according to a statement made this week by the NHS Confederation chief executive, Stephen Dorrell.

Lansley came under criticism after it was revealed that the CQC was forced to cancel their planned inspections of over 580 care homes and instead work an extra 1100 days to investigate abortion clinics. The total cost of the quick directive is valued at around one million pounds. Lansley chose to order the inspections after an article was published in The Daily Telegraph that stated doctors were breaking laws and allowing women to choose to abort children based on the gender of the fetuses.

Lansley was accused of ‘chasing headlines’ by Andy Burnham, the Shadow Health secretary, and using the gender abortion rumours to help draw attention away from the weak health reform bill. Conservative Chairman of the Commons health select committee, Stephen Dorrell, also launched his own criticism of the action, stating that Lansley should have asked the CQC to take a look at the issue instead of ordering them to quickly launch an investigation into the matter.

However, Dorrell stated that Lansley’s quick action was necessary because of the gravity of the issue. He explained that when a Secretary of State is faced with such a large issue it is only natural that he would want an independent regulator to quickly get to the core of the matter to resolve the problem, if it does indeed exist.

He added that although the CQC already had a work programme in place, there are times when priorities need to be considered and it is legitimate that the regulator would be asked to shift their priorities. As a result of the inquiries, one in five abortion clinics that were inspected were found to be breaking not only rules but also possibly the law.


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