News Writer Charlie O’Keeffe reports on the NHS ‘Pill by Post’ scheme soon planning to come to an end

Written by Charlie O'Keeffe

On the 24th March, Maggie Throup, the Public Health Minister, confirmed that the ‘pill by post’ scheme will no longer be in place by September. The scheme started as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and allowed people to be sent the two pills necessary for a pregnancy termination, which could be taken at home. This was put in place in order to deal with the disruption to NHS care, ensuring that those in need of an abortion would still be able to get one without the need to go to a health facility.

The scheme started as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and allowed people to be sent the two pills necessary for a pregnancy termination

The original plan was for this scheme to end next month, instead it has been extended until midnight on the 29th August. The pre-pandemic system will then be reinstated, where those seeking abortions are required to have a consultation with a clinician and take the first of the two pills in a healthcare setting. It will continue to be possible for the second pill to be taken at home.

However, in Wales the decision has been made to keep the ‘pill by post’ scheme in place. Eluned Morgan, the Welsh Health Minister, said that she is ‘satisfied that the arrangements are safe.’ Ms Morgan stressed the benefits of this newer system, highlighting the ‘reduced waiting times’ which mean that it is possible to get help ‘more quickly than would have been possible under the previous arrangements. In addition, Ms Morgan pointed towards the benefits to the NHS, since a reduced number of appointments means less strain on the services.

Wales is not alone in its support of the scheme. The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) called it a ‘safe and effective world-leading service’ and said the consequences could be ‘disastrous’ if it is stopped. Clare Murphy, the BPAS chief executive, warned that scrapping it may make people who are unable to access in-clinic treatment, ‘resort to illegal methods again and face criminal sanctions as a result.’ Additionally, Dr Zoe Greaves, chair of the British Medical Association’s medical ethics committee, said ‘those most affected by this change will be those who are at the greatest risk of harm.’ The Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child, however, said allowing people to receive abortion drugs without an in-person consultation was ‘reckless and deadly.’ Ms Throup has said that the decision to scrap the scheme will remain under review.

 Redbrick spoke to the University’s Students for Choice group and they said:

At Birmingham Students for Choice, we are extremely disappointed in the government’s decision to remove telemedicine as an option for early medical abortions following its instatement during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have personally reviewed the available evidence that has been published so far on both physical and mental health outcomes for patients using telemedicine compared to in person care. We found there were no significant differences in physical health outcomes and in some cases, these were even improved. We found only one study specifically addressing mental health however qualitative data suggests that telemedicine is both accepted and often preferred for users. For example, it is more convenient for many people, it also allows it to be more discrete in cases of young people or people with safeguarding concerns as there is less questioning over where they are going when they go to the appointments.’

Read more news articles here:

Lecture ‘Cancelled’ After Guest Speaker Refused to Cross Picket Line

Universities Minister Encourages Dissatisfied Students to Ask for Refunds

Record Numbers Sign up to Nursing Courses