Objective To investigate the referral process from two Primary Care Trusts to a National Health Service-funded abortion clinic in the North West of England.
Methods The study comprised a survey of all clinic attendees from within the study area during a 6-month period. All attending women were asked to complete an anonymous questionnaire. A total of 202 questionnaires were given out and 143 were returned completed (a 71% response rate).
Results At least 90% of the women were referred directly from the first health professional they consulted to the abortion clinic. Five percent of the women were either referred to another health professional or not referred anywhere. Twelve percent of the women had to wait longer than the 3 weeks recommended by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists guideline. In a minority of cases this wait extended up to 7 weeks. However, most women were satisfied with the length of wait, the health professional they consulted with and, in particular, the care they received at the abortion clinic itself.
Conclusions In a minority of cases the referral system failed to meet the guidelines and recommendations made by professional bodies. Changes are necessary to ensure that all women receive a prompt and efficient referral to ensure that their procedure occurs at the earliest possible gestation.
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