Skip to main content
Other pages in this section

Policy update, November 2017

Your monthly round-up of national health policy developments for 13 October to 17 November

If you have any comments or if there is anything else you would like to see in the round-up, please contact us at



The Scottish government has granted approval for women in Scotland to take the second stage of early medical abortion medication at home. Women meeting the inclusion criteria will be required to attend the clinic for mifepristone administration. They will then have the option to be discharged home to self-administer misoprostol at an agreed time interval and pass the pregnancy. The change came into effect from 27 October 2017


NHS England has announced that Professor Stephen Powis has been appointed as its new National Medical Director. Professor Powis, is currently Group Chief Medical Officer at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, and will succeed Professor Sir Bruce Keogh in his national role in the New Year


Secretary of State for Education and Minister for Women and Equalities, Justine Greening, announced further details of the scheme allowing women from Northern Ireland to access NHS funded abortions in England. She explained:

  • Providers of abortions in England have been invited to apply for funding which will be accessed via a grant scheme administered by the Department of Health.
  • The cost of the service will be met by the Government Equalities Office, with additional funding provided by the Treasury.
  • A small number of procedures will continue to be provided through the NHS (where medically necessary) and NHS providers will be reimbursed by Department of Health.
  • Women from Northern Ireland seeking medical support in England will be eligible for:
    • A consultation with an abortion provider in England, including an assessment of whether the legal grounds for an abortion are met
    • The abortion procedure
    • HIV or sexually transmitted infection testing as appropriate
    • An offer of contraception from the abortion provider
    • Support with travel costs if the woman meets financial hardship criteria.
    • A central booking service is being established by the end of the year which will mean that women from Northern Ireland will have a single number to call, with an appointment being made for the most appropriate provider based on the woman’s requirements and provider availability.
    • In the meantime women from Northern Ireland can continue to make their own arrangements with providers, but will not be charged.



The Welsh Assembly’s Children, Young People and Education Committee published a report on perinatal mental health. The report makes a number of recommendations to the Welsh Government to:

  • Establish and provide national funding for a clinician-led managed clinical network (MCN).
  • Analyse the level of demand for Mother and Baby Units (MBUs) in Wales, potentially establishing one in South Wales and one in North East Wales.
  • Establish guidance for professionals and public on breastfeeding and impact on mental health.
  • Work with the relevant bodies to ensure that perinatal mental health is included in the pre-registration training and continuous professional development of all health professionals and clinicians who are likely to come across perinatal women.
  • Introduce a public awareness campaign around perinatal mental health to normalise the issue and reduce stigma



NHS Digital have produced the latest Maternity Services Monthly Statistics for June 2017. The statistics are a patient-level data set that captures key information at each stage of the maternity services care pathway.


The Department of Health’s Gender ratios at birth in Great Britain 2011-2015, shows no evidence of gender selective abortions occurring during the period. There were 3.8 million births registered in Great Britain and a ratio of boys to girls of 105.3, which is below the expected upper limit of 107.


NHS Digital have reported a drop in the number of women attending cervical screenings, with only 62% of younger women attending last year. Public Health England (PHE) have issued an appeal to young women to attend cervical cancer screening as as they estimate that if everyone attended screening regularly, 83% of cervical cancer cases could be prevented.


Figures released from the Nursing and Midwifery Council have shown that the number of nurses and midwives from the EU has continued to fall. Many have attributed the decline to the EU referendum, where the trend started. There was a 67% rise in the number of EU nurses and midwives leaving the register in the 12 months up to September compared to the same period the year before. In addition to this there was an 89% drop in the number of new EU nationals joining the NHS.


A study from EU doctors working in the UK by British Medical Association (BMA) has also found that that nearly half are considering leaving following the EU referendum result, with almost one in five already having solid plans to relocate elsewhere. The top three reasons cited for considering leaving were the UK’s decision to leave the EU, a current negative attitude toward EU workers in the UK and continuing uncertainty over future immigration rules.