The NHS has awarded a new contract to the British Pregnancy Advice Service (BPAS) to provide pregnancy terminations and related care in Norfolk.
BPAS will take over the service from Wednesday 5th April 2017 for three years, with an option to extend for a further two years if both parties agree.
The Termination of Pregnancy Service (TOPS) provides terminations which are clinically appropriate depending upon gestation, ranging from early medical intervention to surgical abortions at up to 24 weeks.
The service is required to offer high quality, responsive and impartial support and advice to women who request an abortion, regardless of their age, ethnicity, disabilities, mental health needs, sexual orientation, religious or personal circumstances. It also offers sexual health screening and contraception advice for service users.
The contract award follows a thorough procurement run by the NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups for West Norfolk, which co-ordinated the process, and North Norfolk, Norwich and South Norfolk. The procurement took place as scheduled because the contract for the current service was nearing the end of its term and had to be offered to all providers to tender for. The procurement process began in June 2016.
The current service is run by Marie Stopes International. It continues as normal until the end of the contract in early April, after which the service will be run by BPAS.
A panel of NHS doctors, nurses and managers evaluated the bids received to run the service and scored them against very strict criteria. 80% of the scoring related to the overall quality of the service and 20% was for financial sustainability.
Dr Pallavi Devulapalli from NHS West Norfolk CCG said: “The termination of pregnancy service is a highly sensitive and important service that provides care for women at a time when they often feel vulnerable and worried. We shall work to ensure there is a smooth handover so that women can continue to have confidence in the service.”
According to Government data, there were 1448 terminations of pregnancy carried out with NHS funding in Norfolk in 2014. More than seven in ten of these were at under ten weeks. https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/abortion-statistics-england-and-wales-2014. According to BPAS, 1 in 3 UK women will have an abortion by the time they are 45 years old.
Ann Furedi, BPAS chief executive said: “BPAS is very pleased to have been chosen to provide abortion care to women in Norfolk. We are an experienced charity dedicated to helping women facing an unplanned pregnancy or a pregnancy they cannot continue. We look forward to developing local services in Norfolk and working with other sexual health services within the county to support women’s health and choices.”