12/07/2012 11:03 BST | Updated 12/07/2012 12:38 BST

14 NHS Trusts 'Pre-Signed' Abortion Documents, CQC Inspection Finds

Andrew Lansley has been accused of chasing headlines and wasting £1m of public money after instigating inspections in every abortion clinic in England which saw no evidence of poor care.

Despite reports in the press in March, which suggested that up to one in five clinics may be breaking the law by pre-signing abortion forms, the regulator Care Quality Commission (CQC) found just 14 out of 249 providers had ignored the rules.

The commission abandoned 580 other inspections of hospitals and care homes to pay for the raids.

The CQC said in a statement on Thursday that all 14 providers found to have broken the law, which are all NHS, had since stopped the practice. No independent sector providers were found to be pre-signing forms.

"All have now done so, and steps including internal audits and staff training have been taken to ensure continued compliance," they said.

The CQC said they had shared all the information with the General Medical Council, the Nursing and Midwifery Council and the police "who are still considering what action to take as a result."

The regulator confirmed to the Huffington Post UK it had "absolutely not" pre-briefed the media on the results of the raids in March, saying "that would not be in our interest."

Bpas reacted angrily to the news, pointing out that no women at the 14 clinics found to have pre-signed forms had "poor outcomes of care."

Ann Furedi, Bpas' chief executive, said in a statement, "To demand nationwide CQC searches at a cost of £1m, suspend hundreds of planned inspections, and to threaten these doctors with criminal proceedings was an entirely disproportionate response to the scale of the practice or problem of pre-signing.

"Pre-signing is not a clinical issue that puts women at risk or compromises their care. It is a regulatory matter that could have been resolved at a far lower cost to the taxpayer and with far less disruption to women and doctors. It is shocking that finite resources were squandered in this way."

There have been no arrests as a result of the raids.

Labour's shadow public health minister Diane Abbott accused Lansey of chasing headlines. saying the 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.  It’s clear that Andrew Lansley has used women’s lives, and series of sensitive issues, to posture to the right-wing of the Tory Party, and their friends in the media, to the tune of £1million of taxpayer’s money and 1,100 days of the CQC's time."

Public Health Minister Anne Milton said: "The CQC's inspection shows that the vast majority of abortion clinics were providing a safe service for women and obeying the law.

"The CQC raised concerns about potentially illegal pre-signing practices earlier this year and we acted rapidly to ensure that the relevant abortion clinics were investigated. Having raised concerns that around a fifth of clinics might not be following the rules properly, the CQC's investigations have found that, there was clear evidence of pre-signing of forms in 14 services.

"The swift action of the CQC means we have been able to stamp out poor practice, and sends a clear message that we will act in cases where the law is not being followed carefully in this sensitive area.

"We want to ensure that women always receive the best possible care."

The Met police said: "Officers from the Major Investigation Team at the Child Abuse Investigation Command are working with a number of agencies including the Care Quality Commission, Nursing and Midwifery Council, General Medical Council, Department of Health, the Crown Prosecution Service and other police constabularies to identify potential malpractice and to establish whether criminal offences may have taken place."


These 14 NHS Trusts are listed below. CQC did not find evidence that any women had poor outcomes of care at any of these locations.


1. Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust -  Bradford Royal Infirmary

2. Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Trust - Loughborough Hospital

3. Kings College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust 

4. Newcastle-upon-Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust - Royal Victoria Infirmary

5. Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust - Scunthorpe General Hospital

6. Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust  - Rochdale Infirmary

7. Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust - Peterborough City Hospital  

8. Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust - Princess Alexandra Hospital

9. Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust - Musgrove Park Hospital

10. University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust -  Central Health Clinic

11. University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust - Leicester General

12. University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust – Leicester Royal

13. Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust - Arrowe Park Hospital

14. Wye Valley NHS Trust - Hereford Hospital