Andrew_Lansley.jpgBarely a day goes by when we don't hear about another scandal in a care home, or a report on mistreatment of the elderly and infirm in hospitals whose uncaring or over-worked staff are supposed to be looking after them. Yet Andrew Lansley made a decision last month to halt the important work carried out by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to focus on enforcement of an arguably antiquated piece of legislation: the need for two doctors to approve an abortion.

NHS patient care monitoring was hit hard during the mass auditing project in March, which diverted resources into investigating over 300 providers of abortion services. The healthcare watchdog has now responded angrily to to Department of Health's decision, claiming that it had a detrimental impact on its planned, day-to-day activity.

Dame Jo Williams, who is chair of the CQC wrote the department a terse letter, stating that "fulfilment of [the health secretary's] request has clearly impacted on planned regulatory activity by the CQC". [source]

The main focus of the investigation seems to have been a crackdown on clinics who may be flouting the letter of the law on the "two doctors" rule by getting medical staff to pre-sign approval forms for requested terminations of pregnancy. It was widely believed that this practice was commonplace as a means to speed up waiting time for patients, and perhaps as a generally held belief that the need for two doctor's signatures was an outmoded practice. Abortion is currently the only medical procedure requiring a second medical opinion under UK law.

What is perhaps most shocking about this case is that Lansley did not even wait for the results of the study to come out before sending out press releases to 'confirm' his findings, it has been claimed [Source]. If he was so certain that these practices were taking place, why put the CQC's resources and over £1 million public funding into the 'urgent' investigation? Whatever your views are on abortion, the sheer economics of it are nonsensical.

If anyone has a good answer to this question, we'd love to hear it.