The Isle of Man DHSC has chosen not to announce details of the new Manx abortion service which is available from today – so we’ll do it for them.
The good news is that there is a dedicated booking and information telephone number (01624 642521). The bad news is that for now, this BPAS-run service is not actually available in the Isle of Man – women will have to travel to clinics across.
Because there has been no official announcement from the DHSC, we asked BPAS and this is what we were told (our comments in brackets)
- The booking and information number is 642521 and is open from 7am – 11pm every day. If women call outside these times, they can leave a message and ask the team to call back. This number goes directly through to the BPAS booking team in England so please encourage women to include the Isle of Man area code in any message they leave.
(This is the good news)
- Women can self-refer – they do not need to see their doctor or receive a referral from any Manx organisation
(Also good news: this is a key provision laid down in Abortion Reform Act 2019)
- After women get in touch with BPAS, they will have a teleconsultation as standard, meaning they will discuss their options with a qualified nurse on the phone. If, after this call, they decide they want to proceed with an abortion, they will receive an appointment in Great Britain.
(What? This is not what was supposed to happen – David Ashford MHK said on 26 March that ‘the Department plan to deliver medical abortion services within Noble’s Hospital’
BPAS runs 70 clinics in Great Britain and Manx women will be able to discuss with the team where they would like to attend and what day would work for them. BPAS provide appointments around the country 7 days a week.
- The DHSC will be funding treatment, travel, and accommodation and all of these will be booked by BPAS – meaning women do not need to worry about organising these aspects of care. The DHSC will also fund an escort to come with the client for her treatment.
(Good news for the woman, bad news for the tax-payer)
So, to recap:
For the first time, women in the Isle of Man will be able to access an abortion service but they will still need to travel to a clinic in the UK.
No wonder the DHSC didn’t make an official statement.
They’ve had months to work on this – and for the first time, CALM isn’t staying calm. An early medical abortion consists of two tablets – a procedure that costs less than Viagra but, by sending women to a clinic across the Isle of Man Government will be funding not only the procedure but also travel (and we all know how expensive last minute flights are) and accommodation for the woman and an escort if she wants one. What a waste of tax-payers’ money.
And it was all going so well.
We can only apologise to all of our supporters – this wishy-washy watered down version of the provision of abortion services might only be short-term, the DHSC might be planning to bring it all on-Island, but for now woman will have to travel to clinics across. If this is you, we’re so sorry that the Department of Health couldn’t use the ten weeks since the Health Minister said abortion services would be available at Noble’s Hospital to actually do this.
CALM will be monitoring this service – please get in touch by emailing us, or via messenger on our Facebook page if you’re happy to share your experience – and will continue to press for a full, on-Island, service as soon as possible.
That telephone number again is 01624 642521 – and, as the Act says, you don’t need to be referred by your GP – for the first time the Isle of Man is trusting women to make a decision for herself.
At least that’s some good news.