Wednesday 18 September 2019

GPs will be asked to opt in to provide abortions at €450 each

Simon Harris: Agreement has been reached with the IMO. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Simon Harris: Agreement has been reached with the IMO. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Family doctors are to be written to asking them if they are interested in providing abortions from January, following an agreement to pay them fees of up to €450 for each patient.

The service will be free and will entitle women to three visits to the GP as well as access to medication.

This will apply for up to nine weeks of pregnancy.

Health Minister Simon Harris announced last night that agreement had been reached on the contract for the service with the Irish Medical Organisation.

GPs will be asked to opt in and expressions of interest are to be sought in letters to doctors from the HSE in the coming days.

Doctors who are interested will be sent the contract and asked to return a signed copy by early December.

They will receive €150 for a first visit when a woman can request a termination and undergo a medical examination.

The patient will need to be referred to a maternity hospital if her pregnancy is over nine weeks, or there are other complications which might arise.

However if she continues in the care of the GP, the full fee for the doctor will be €450.

While the fee may be seen as generous - GPs typically charge €50-€60 for a consultation - it reflects how potentially time-consuming providing abortions can be, with the need for lengthy consultations and the added responsibilities of having to check on the woman over a period of days.

To be paid the full fee, three visits will be required. The first will be the consultation, the second when the patient receives the medication, and the third will be for a follow-up post-termination.

The minister said that on the first visit the doctor will confirm the pregnancy, offer advice and information and certify she is no more than 12 weeks pregnant.

Consent

Following the three-day waiting period, a second visit will be required where the doctor will obtain consent, provide information on the procedure, possible complications and advice on contraception.

The doctor will also administer the first medication and supply the second medication to the patient, which she can take at home between 24 and 48 hours later.

At the third visit, which will be optional for the woman, the doctor will confirm that the termination is complete and provide an aftercare consultation.

Mr Harris said the agreement was a "significant step" towards introducing abortion services at the beginning of January.

Irish Independent

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