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Volume 501: debated on Wednesday 25 November 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps his Department is taking to address the variation in levels of repeat abortions across England. (300328)

One of the aims of the Government’s Sexual Health and HIV Strategy for England is to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies. The standard national health service contract for 2009-10 includes a new clause to ensure that abortion providers improve access to the full range of contraception for women undergoing abortion. A specification for abortion services is currently being developed to support implementation of this new requirement.

The Department has invested £20.5 million in 2009-10 to improve access to contraception to improve all women’s knowledge of and access to the full range of contraception and help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, abortion and repeat abortions. This includes £7 million for a “contraceptive choices” media campaign and a further £10 million to strategic health authorities (SHAs) for local action.

Primary care trusts and SHAs were asked to use their funding to improve access to all contraceptive methods to reduce teenage conception, abortion and repeat abortion rates, particularly in areas where teenage pregnancy rates were high. We are actively working with the SHAs to monitor additional spend and share best practice.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much it cost his Department to (a) collect, (b) process, (c) collate and (d) store statistics on abortion in the most recent 12-months for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. (300793)

This information is not collated in the categories requested. Registered medical practitioners are legally required to send a notification to the chief medical officer after each abortion is performed. Information derived from the form is used to monitor compliance with the Abortion Act 1967, as amended, and to compile statistical outputs as appropriate.

The overall cost to the Department over the last 12 months of issuing, processing and storing the forms, and the provision of statistical outputs is estimated to be £408,670. This figure includes staff, printing and information technology costs.