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Abortion

Volume 889: debated on Tuesday 25 March 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what decisions have been made about further reapprovals of private nursing homes under the Abortion Act; and what further steps she intends taking to extend her control of the activities of these nursing homes.

At the end of 1974, the 28 private nursing homes most involved in abortion—those with more than six beds, or more than 25 per cent. of their total beds, approved for use for abortion—were reapproved only until 31st March 1975. Information has now been obtained from these nursing homes covering, amongst other things, the range of charges to patients and referral routes to the homes.In three cases the nursing homes said that they were no longer mainly involved in abortion; in each case a reduction in the number of approved beds was agreed and the nursing homes have in consequence been reapproved until 31st December 1975.The homes concerned are: Clifton Lane Nursing Home, Rotherham; Hythe Nursing Home, Kent; Old Court Clinic, London, W.5.As to the remaining 25, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services has formed the opinion that an arrangement whereby the patient is in- formed in advance of the total cost of all the services to be provided, including the doctor's fees would be a useful safeguard to patients against possible exploitation. Consultations are being started with the medical profession on various matters concerned with the private sector of abortion which will include the possibility of such arrangements forming the basis for a new assurance to be given to her by nursing home proprietors.The replies given to the questions about charges in response to the inquiries made earlier this year show that some approved nursing homes already operate on the basis of quoting to patients in advance the total cost of all services including doctors fees. My right hon. Friend has decided that the range of fees charged by these nursing homes is not unreasonable and that they should be therefore re-approved until 31st December 1975.These homes are:

  • Wistons Nursing Home, Brighton.
  • Fairfield Nursing Home, Buckhurst Hill, Essex.
  • Merseyside Nursing Home, Liverpool.
  • Calthorpe Nursing Home, Birmingham.
  • Blackdown Nursing Home, Leamington Spa.

Pending the outcome of discussions with the medical profession my right hon. Friend has decided that in cases where nursing homes do not quote to patients in advance the total cost of all services including doctors fees and where she has insufficient information on which to judge whether the total cost to patients is reasonable, the reapproval should be only for three months, until 30th June 1975.

The nursing homes in this category are:

  • The Avenue Clinic, London NW5.
  • Coniston House, London W5.
  • Avenue Clinic, Hove.
  • Robert Nursing House, Birmingham 30.
  • Woodthorpe Nursing Home, Nottingham.
  • Leigham Private Clinic, London SW16.
  • The Nursing Home, 27 Welbeck Street, London W1.
  • Park View Clinic, London W5.
  • New Cross Nursing Home, London SE14.
  • Victoria House, Rochester, Kent.
  • Raleigh Nursing Home, London SW2.
  • Parkside Clinic, New Barnet, Herts.
  • Beechwood Private Clinic, Sheffield.
  • The Garden Clinic, London NW1.
  • Manstone Nursing Home, London NW1.
  • Elstree Nursing Home, Shenley, Herts.
  • Richmond Private Clinic and Nursing Home, East Twickenham.
  • Gables Nursing Home, Aylesbury.
  • London Private Nursing Home, London W1.
  • Fallodon Private Nursing Home, Leeds.

The replies given by nursing homes to the earlier inquiries showed unanimous support for my right hon. Friend's proposal to establish a register of pregnancy advisory bureaux which satisfy certain conditions. Consultations have been started with the medical profession about the creation of such a register and the conditions to be satisfied, the intention being that patients should not be accepted by nursing homes from bureaux not on the register.

Consultations with the medical profession are also proceeding about a further proposal that would restrict late abortions, that is, after the 20th week of gestation, to NHS hospitals where the full obstetric, gynaecological and paediatric facilities are available.

It is my right hon. Friend's intention, once these consultations have been concluded, to consider seeking fresh assurances from the proprietors of approved nursing homes on these matters.