Eight months after a Tynwald report criticised the lack of development in the island’s abortion services, Manx Care has told Gef of the progress it has made and is continuing to make to improve access, as well as the service overall.
It was in June last year that the Social Affairs Policy Review Committee criticised the lack of information and signposting for women seeking to access the service, two years after the law was changed on the island.
At the time, the committee, chaired by the new Education Minister Julie Edge, said there was a ‘compelling need for significantly better public information on the availability in the island of abortion services.
However, eight months later, Manx Care said it has made improvements to the website which explains to women how to access the service and provides links to BPAS (the British Pregnancy Advisory Service), as well as on-island contraception and Genito-Urinary Medicine services.
A spokeswoman for Manx Care explained that its agreement with BPAS is an ‘interim’ one whilst Manx Care is recruiting and planning staff training and that anyone wishing to access the abortion service should call 642521.
Changes and Recruitment
When the report was published, Abortion Services were said to be operating in a silo. However, since Manx Care took over, it said it is now part of the Integrated Sexual Health services. These services combined the GUM clinic, Contraception and the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) and also has medical provision from Obstetrics and Gynaecology services
The Manx Care spokeswoman told Gef: ‘In terms of service delivery, there has been funding identified for a Specialist Nurse to work in and develop the service, and the recruitment process for that position has been completed, with the successful applicant expected to start employment within the next 8-10 weeks subject to the necessary pre-employment checks.’
As well as this recruitment, Manx Care is training staff, such as receptionists who will be the first point of contact for women seeking to access abortions, as well as training for nursing staff who will carry out the pre-abortion clinical consultations.
When the island passed its abortion laws, a big part of the change was the emphasis on women being able to make choices over their bodies. Once Manx Care has completed its recruitment process and training, women will be able to access abortion services from first contact to termination and aftercare on the island.
However, Manx Care has said that it will be retaining its partnership with BPAS to ensure that women who choose to go off-island will be able to do so. That partnership will also mean Manx Care can keep up to date with the best practice and clinical standards in the UK.