Restrictions to Marie Stopes Belfast operations could have 'knock-on effect'

The clinic says it has voluntarily suspend some services

Restrictions to Marie Stopes Belfast operations could have 'knock-on effect'

Marie Stopes Northern Ireland in Belfast city centre | Image: Paul Faith / PA Archive/Press Association Images

Marie Stopes has confirmed a suspension of some of its pregnancy termination services does include its clinic in Northern Ireland.

The clinic says it has agreed with the UK Care Quality Commission (CQC) to voluntarily suspend services for those under 18 and vulnerable groups of women to allow them "resolve areas of concern in its training and governance procedures."

As part of the suspension, terminations under general anaesthetic or conscious sedation have also been ceased.

However a spokesman for Marie Stopes said this would not impact severely on its Belfast operation, as it only offers medical abortions.

But this could see a knock-on affect to others who may be referred to other services in the UK. "That's probably going to affect people more", the spokesman told Newstalk.com.

The CQC raised concerns about its corporate and clinical governance arrangements and patient safety protocols in specific areas.

"We are working urgently with the CQC on these areas and intend to regain full assurance within a few days," the firm said in a statement.

It said it is working to make sure women booked into one of its affected services will be "rebooked swiftly" into alternative local services.

The clinic in Belfast is regulated by Northern Ireland's Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RIQA), and not the CQC.

But Marie Stopes say the restrictions will still apply across all its services.