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Rotunda board discussed possible use of treatment abroad scheme for terminations

A hospital spokesperson told the Medical Independent (MI): “[TAS form] E112 was outlined to the board as a possible option if the service was not ready by 1 January. This was only outlined as a possible option and was not considered further and therefore was not communicated to staff.”

The HSE TAS covers the cost of treatment in another country in the European Union, European Economic Area  or Switzerland, where the treatment requested is legal in Ireland and either not available in this country or not available “within the time normally necessary to get it in Ireland”.

Concern was expressed at the Rotunda’s board meeting on 4 October regarding “how the new clinical service will be integrated into an already-strained system… Additional capital funding, revenue funding and resources will be required”.

According to the minutes, the HSE National Women and Infants Health Programme (NIWHP) estimated that 80 per cent of terminations, ie, up to nine weeks, would be undertaken by GPs, with 20 per cent, ie, nine-to-12 weeks, requiring hospital services. “10,000 terminations per annum are projected, with 2,500 requiring surgical intervention. These patients will mainly be seen by the three large Dublin maternity hospitals and Cork University Hospital.”

The use of ultrasound/diagnostics was discussed and it was noted that most GP practices would not have this resource.

The Chair of the Board Dr Maria Wilson Browne voiced concerns in respect of hospital capacity, according to the minutes, while Director of Midwifery and Nursing Ms Fiona Hanrahan said there was “currently no model of care or associated services for the termination of pregnancy”. 

The minutes further described the Department of Health’s timeframe to roll-out the service in January 2019 as “unrealistic”. In this context, there was a suggestion at the meeting that “form E112 which permits Irish patients to be treated abroad and which is funded by the HSE should be used until a safe service is in place”.

On extra resources to help roll-out the service, the Rotunda’s spokesperson told MI sanction had been approved for a consultant, two clinical nurse managers and one administrative resource. “Funding is to be allocated for these posts on a once-off basis in 2019. Funding is from the NIWHP allocated through RCSI Hospitals Group.”

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