Abortion clinics pre-signing forms

David Smith made this Freedom of Information request to Care Quality Commission

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was refused by Care Quality Commission.

Dear Care Quality Commission,

I refer to recent articles in the Telegraph about abortion clinics pre-signing forms for terminations.

The Telegraph refers to 'more than 50 clinics' out of 250 inspected but it is unclear whether all of these clinics are following this practice or whether some of them have been found to be breaching regulations in other ways.

FOI REQUEST:

Please advise how many of the 'more than 50 clinics' found to be breaching regulations are suspected of pre-signing termination forms.

PLEASE NOTE: I appreciate that you cannot name the clinics yet and I am not asking you to do so. Just to give an overall number.

This is an issue of significant public interest and I think you should have the figures at hand (your website says that you are reporting these clinics to the police and GMC). So you shouldn't need 20 days to reply.

Please provide a response promptly.

Yours faithfully,

David Smith

Information Access, Care Quality Commission

 

This matter is being dealt with by: Paul Douglas, Telephone No: 0191
2333590

 

Dear Mr Smith

 

I am writing to acknowledge receipt of your request for information dated
26 March 2012, which the Commission received on 26 March 2012. Your
request for information is as follows: -

 

FOI REQUEST:

Please advise how many of the 'more than 50 clinics' found to be breaching
regulations are suspected of pre-signing termination forms.

 

Your request is now being processed in accordance with the Freedom of
Information Act 2000. Your response should be sent to you within the
statutory timescale of 20 working days as outlined by the Act, subject to
the information not meeting exemption criteria or containing reference to
a third party. Should this occur, you will be notified accordingly when we
write to you next.

 

You can therefore expect a response by close of business 25 April 2012
respectively. In certain circumstances the Care Quality Commission may be
unable to provide the information within statutory timescale.  We will
then inform you of the revised timescale prior to the deadline.

 

We may require further information from you in order to process your
request.  If this is the case you will be informed and the statutory
timescale will be suspended until we receive further information from you.
If you decide not to respond then your request will be closed.

 

If you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact the team, on the
telephone number above, quoting our reference number.
 
Regards
 
On behalf of:
Paul Douglas
Information Access Officer
 
Care Quality Commission
Citygate
Gallowgate
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE1 4PA
 
Statutory requests for information made under access to information
legislation, such as the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Freedom of
Information Act 2000, should be sent to:  [CQC request email]
 

The contents of this email and any attachments are confidential to the
intended recipient. They may not be disclosed to or used by or copied in
any way by anyone other than the intended recipient. If this email is
received in error, please notify us immediately by clicking "Reply" and
delete the email. Please note that neither the Care Quality Commission nor
the sender
accepts any responsibility for viruses and it is your responsibility to
scan or otherwise check this email and any attachments.

Any views expressed in this message are those of the individual sender,
except where the sender specifically states them to be the views of the
Care Quality Commission.

Information Access, Care Quality Commission

Dear Mr Smith

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request which we received on 26 March 2012.

You asked:

"Please advise how many of the 'more than 50 clinics' found to be breaching regulations are suspected of pre-signing termination forms".

The Secretary of State asked CQC, as the regulatory agency with direct powers to inspect and seize evidence across the NHS and independent sector, to conduct inspections of termination of pregnancy services in order to identify any evidence of pre-signing of forms.

Where our inspectors discovered pre-signed forms - indicating that providers might be breaking the law - we are sharing this information with the police and the General Medical Council. CQC is also considering what regulatory action we will be taking against these providers. We will be publishing individual reports on all providers inspected shortly and cannot legally identify non-compliant services until this point.

In the course of this activity, we also identified evidence of other areas of non-compliance and we are acting accordingly to address those issues.

In total, CQC inspected 329 of these services. We believe that the 'more than 50 clinics' reference relates to all clinics where we found breaches of any of the regulations under the Health and Social Care Act 2008, as the overall number of services where we found evidence of pre-signed of forms is significantly lower than this number.

However, CQC will not release the number of services where we have identified evidence of pre-signing until the appropriate investigations have been completed and the official reports have been published. We consider this information to be exempt under section 21 of the Act, on the basis that this is information intended for future publication.

We recognise that there is a significant public interest in disclosure of this information so as to inform the media and public as to our findings regarding this serious issue. Against this, we have considered that it is important that any official statistics issued by CQC are robust and accurate, as we consider that it would be counter-productive to release figures without ensuring that they are absolutely accurate and robust. This requires that we wait until the appropriate process, whereby service providers can challenge the factual accuracy of our findings, has been completed.

We are also concerned that we should not make any disclosure of information that may prejudice any criminal investigation or legal process. We have therefore decided that the public interest favours withholding the number at this time.

I hope that you have found this response helpful. If you are not satisfied with the information that you have been provided with, then you may request an internal review of the Commission's handling of your information request.

Please clearly indicate that you wish for an internal review and state the reason for requesting the review. To request a review please contact:

Legal Services & Information Rights

Care Quality Commission

Citygate

Gallowgate

Newcastle upon Tyne

NE1 4PA

[CQC request email]

Please be aware that this review process will focus upon our handling of your information request and should not be used to raise further concerns about the provision of care or the internal processes of other CQC functions.

If you are unhappy with other aspects of the Commission's actions, or of the actions of registered providers, please see our website for information on how to raise a concern or complaint:

http://www.cqc.org.uk/contact-us

Further rights of appeal exist to the Information Commissioner's Office under section 50 of the Act once the internal appeals process has been exhausted.

The contact details are:

Information Commissioner's Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

SK9 5AF

Telephone: 01625 545 745

Website: http://www.ico.gov.uk/

Kind regards

CQC Information Access Team

Care Quality Commission
Citygate
Gallowgate
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE1 4PA

The Care Quality Commission is the independent regulator of all health and adult social care in England. www.cqc.org.uk. For general enquiries, telephone the National Contact Centre: 03000 616161.

Statutory requests for information made pursuant to access to information legislation, such as the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Freedom of Information Act 2000, should be sent to: [CQC request email]

The contents of this email and any attachments are confidential to the intended recipient. They may not be disclosed to or used by or copied in any way by anyone other than the intended recipient. If this email is received in error, please notify us immediately by clicking "Reply" and delete the email. Please note that neither the Care Quality Commission nor the sender
accepts any responsibility for viruses and it is your responsibility to scan or otherwise check this email and any attachments.

Any views expressed in this message are those of the individual sender, except where the sender specifically states them to be the views of the Care Quality Commission.