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Question for Department of Health

UIN HL3681, tabled on 29 November 2016

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the report by the Department of Health Matching Department of Health abortion notifications and data from the National Down’s Syndrome Cytogenetic Register, published in May 2014, and of the report by Eurocat Misinterpretation of TOPFA data on website tables, published in 2013, (1) what steps they have taken to end the under-reporting of abortions on the grounds of disability; (2) what evidence they have that under-reporting no longer happens; and (3) what sanctions they have developed to ensure that under-reporting does not recur.

Answered on

13 December 2016

We continue to carefully monitor reporting of abortions for fetal abnormality. Actions being taken include working directly with hospital staff to understand their specific challenges and help them find solutions to improve reporting of abortions. The Department, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the British Maternal and Fetal Health Medicine Society, will shortly be jointly writing to all clinicians in fetal medicine units, antenatal screening midwives, and associated administrative staff to remind all doctors involved in abortion care of their legal responsibility under the Abortion Act 1967 and Abortion Regulations 1991, to submit form HSA4 within 14 days of the termination. The letter also provides practical examples from hospitals the Department has worked with to improve their reporting processes.

In April 2015, Public Health England (PHE) established a new national congenital anomaly and rare disease registration service. We are working with PHE to compare reporting of abortions notified to the Chief Medical Officer and those reported through the register. Overall, between 2013 and 2015, there was an 18% increase in the number of reported abortions for fetal abnormality. While this increase may not solely be the result of increased reporting of these abortions, we do know that this is the case with some of the hospitals we have been working directly with.