London, Sunday, 5 April 2020:
- Marie Stopes UK (MSUK) will start a new telemedicine service to deliver early medical abortion care from Monday 6th April 2020.
- The change comes after the Government issued the temporary approval of home use for both stages of early medical abortion in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Following initial screening, a phone consultation and all necessary safeguarding checks, eligible women will be able to take both sets of abortion pills at home without attending a clinic.
From Monday 6th April 2020, Marie Stopes UK (MSUK) will start a brand-new telemedicine service to deliver early medical abortion care.
This means that following a screening process to check for eligibility and a full nurse led telephone consultation including all necessary safeguarding checks, eligible women under 9 weeks 6 days gestation will be able to take both sets of abortion pills, Mifepristone and Misoprostol, in the privacy of their own home without attending a clinic. All compulsory requirements of the Abortion Act 1967 will continue to be completed.
The move will prevent thousands of women each month from having to make medically unnecessary journeys while travel restrictions are in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, supporting social distancing measures and reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19 amongst women, clinic team members including doctors, nurses and midwives and the wider public.
Jonathan Lord, Medical Director for Marie Stopes UK, said:
“We know first-hand the stress, anxiety and desperation that many women seeking abortion care are experiencing during the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are delighted that we have been able to implement an effective telemedicine service in response to the crisis.
“As an organisation, we are more committed than ever to ensuring women receive the high-quality abortion care they deserve and we will continue to work to the best of our ability to ensure safe and equal access to this essential healthcare service, whatever the circumstances.
“This would not have happened without a huge joint effort from both the independent women’s healthcare sector and the NHS, and we look forward to working in continued partnership to deliver the best possible care.”
The new measures are fully in line with the UK NICE Guidance on Abortion Care, which recommends telemedicine as a safe and effective way to manage early medical abortions as well as ensure timely and equal access to abortion care.
Marie Stopes UK will follow new recommendations from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists & Royal College of Midwives, using screening questions to determine eligibility for an early medical abortion without a scan and signposting women to telemedicine if no risks – such as an ectopic pregnancy – are identified,
Women will then receive the abortion pills through the post as a part of a Medical Abortion Pack or be able to collect them from their preferred clinic. The Medical Abortion Pack includes both sets of pills, a guide to taking the tablets at home, contraception, an STI kit if this is permitted by the NHS in the woman’s area, pain relief and an aftercare booklet.
Marie Stopes UK hopes the new telemedicine service will bring much needed relief to the thousands of women each month who access abortion care, as well as ease the pressure on abortion providers, so that they can continue to deliver high-quality abortion care to all who need it.
The measures also bring abortion care in line with other healthcare sectors, including the NHS, where telemedicine is already being used as best practice in response to the current COVID 19 crisis.
Women whose pregnancies are past 9 weeks and 6 days will still have to come to clinic to take their tablets in England & Wales, however, in Scotland they can remain safely at home until 12 weeks. Those who wish to attend a clinic for a surgical abortion will still be able to, and at-risk women identified by Marie Stopes’ highly trained medical and clinical staff, will also continue to attend clinics to be seen by nurses and midwives for treatment.
Women will be able to access Marie Stopes UK’ brand-new telemedicine service from Monday 6th April 2020. Anyone seeking advice about an abortion can contact Marie Stopes UK’s free advice line on 03453008090 24hours a day, seven days a week.