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08 November 2018
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32% of GPs say they will provide termination-of-pregnancy services in online consultation process.

43% of GPs have indicated that they are not in position at this time to provide due to concerns regarding capacity, resources or conscientious objection, but are willing to refer to another colleague.

25% indicate that they would not provide service and would prefer not to refer to a colleague, according to ICGP member engagement.

ICGP says no GPs should be required to provide termination-of-pregnancy services if they do not wish to.

The Irish College of General Practitioners, the professional and training body for Irish GPs, has released the findings of an online consultation process of members carried out to guide the development of clinical guidelines for the provision of termination-of-pregnancy services in the community.

The online consultation with over 3,500 members indicates that while over one-third of respondents are willing to provide termination-of-pregnancy services, one quarter are not willing to provide such services in their practices.

The consultation showed that GPs strongly believe that the provision of a suitably-staffed 24-hour helpline is a vital element of the service, as it will be a mechanism to ensure that those who do not wish to provide the service will not be required to do so.

The online consultation process was carried out during August and September, and the responses reflected the demographic and geographic profile of the College membership. There was a 26% participation rate in the online consultation process.

 "The consultation process provided substantial feedback from members which is assisting the College in designing it's clinical guidelines for the termination-of-pregnancy services", said Dr Tony Cox, Medical Director of the ICGP.

"The data indicates that the majority of GPs are either willing to provide the service or refer a patient to another doctor who will. The 24-hour helpline will help women seeking a termination of pregnancy to be referred to a GP or other provider in the community who is able to provide the service to them."

"Of those who do not wish to provide a service, resourcing and workload is a major concern," Dr Cox added. "Our feedback shows that there is genuine worry that the promised rapid access to ultrasound scans and hospital care, will not be delivered.

"The findings also demonstrate that there is a cohort of GPs who will not opt to provide services due to concerns related to conscientious objection."

"Both in the development of guidelines and in advocating for the necessary resources the College's primary concern is patient safety and quality of care," said Dr Cox .

The ICGP has been involved in ongoing feedback and engagement with members since the referendum on the repeal of the 8th amendment was passed in May 2018.

As well as the feedback via the online consultation process conducted during August and September, the College has engaged in a series of nationwide regional meetings at which members have an opportunity to discuss their concerns about termination of pregnancy services in the community. These meetings are continuing through November.

"The College's focus has been to develop clinical guidelines for service provision – the guidelines are relevant to all members, both those who opt in to provide the service as well as those who do not. The College's position has been clear from the outset that it must be an opt-in service", Dr Tony Cox added.

The College will hold an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) of its members on 2nd December to discuss the provision of termination-of-pregnancy services by GPs.

This EGM was called by the Board to discuss the concerns raised by some members.

The College received a request for the holding of an EGM on 31st October, but this was invalid as there were no actual signatures provided which is required procedurally. Recent media reports that over 600 College members had called for this EGM are incorrect. The original request was accompanied by a list of names of which 373 were members of the College.

This notwithstanding the Board are mindful of members concerns in proceeding to convene an EGM.


MEDIA QUERIES: Aileen O'Meara, Communications Consultant, ICGP

Email: Tel 01 2542984 / 087 2239830

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