Thursday 19 September 2019

GPs to be paid around €400 per abortion as roll-out of service nears

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

GPs who deliver medical abortions are expected to be paid a fee in the region of €400 per patient.

The fee is expected to be finalised in talks between the Department of Health and the Irish Medical Organisation tomorrow.

Under the proposed legislation GPs will be allowed deliver a medical abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.

This will involve two visits and possibly a third follow up visit. The service will be free of charge to patients, with the HSE paying the expected fee of €400.

In practice GPs are expected to provide a medical abortion up to nine weeks of pregnancy.

Women who are between nine and 12 weeks pregnant will have a medical abortion in a maternity unit.

It is understood the €400 fee would be all-in and include the cost of all GP visits, including the medication.

Talks took place between the Department of Health officials and the Irish Medical Organisation yesterday on resourcing the abortion service in the community.

The fee for GPs has not been disclosed, but it is expected to be in the region of €400.

The agreement is an important step in the drive to have the law in place by early January.

The Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018 passed committee stage last week and now returns to the Dáil for the report stage.

A woman will visit the GP for an initial consultation and can request an abortion without specifying grounds.

If the GP certifies the abortion she will return for a second visit three days later.

At that stage the GP can administer the two medications to terminate the pregnancy.

A medical abortion involves taking medication to end the pregnancy.

A woman first takes a medicine called mifepristone - this stops the hormone that allows the pregnancy to continue.

Usually 24 to 48 hours later the woman takes the a second medicine called misoprostol.

Within four to six hours, the lining of the womb breaks down, causing bleeding and loss of the pregnancy.

The medication will be given to the woman in the doctor's surgery and she will not have to go to a pharmacy.

A spokeswoman for Health Minister Simon Harris said talks will take place to finalise the issue of resources tomorrow.

A 24/7 phoneline is to be set up, manned by nurses and counsellors, which will provide the names and addresses of local GPs who are participating in the scheme.

Only those doctors who agree to the release of their names will be identified.

There remains the potential problems to be faced if a significant minority of GPs object to referring a woman to another doctor for a termination on the grounds of conscientious objection.

Around three-quarters of GPs said during a consultation with the Irish College of General Practitioners that they would not be providing the service.

Some of the GPs may do so later, depending on workload. One-third said they would definitely be providing it.

Clarification

The minister is to meet with members of the health committee and other TDs this week to discuss areas of clarification in advance of it proceeding to the report stage. One of the issues includes when the start of the three-day pause a woman seeking a medical abortion must observe begins.

Pro-choice TDs conceded the public voted for the three-day pause but want a compromise that effectively means it will begin from the point a woman seeks abortion rather than from the time it is certified by the GP.

The report stage is expected to begin in the last week of this month.

Meanwhile, medical bodies will have to have clinical guidelines complete in a number of weeks.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News