Abortion (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2021 – proposed changes: business and regulatory impact assessment

This business and regulatory impact assessment (BRIA) considers the proposals for changes to the Abortion (Scotland) Regulations 1991 to enable notifications of abortions to be sent to the Chief Medical Officer electronically and to avoid personal data about patients being included in future notifications.

3. Consultation

3.1 Public consultation

A public consultation[1] on the proposed changes ran between 1 March 2021 and 30 April 2021. The consultation was open to anyone to respond to. The consultation was circulated to the Scottish Abortion Care Providers (SACP) group and NHS Boards, to the one approved private abortion provider in Scotland and to other stakeholders with an interest, such as Public Health Scotland, the Information Commissioner's Office and groups representing women.

The consultation received 35 responses, of which 15 were from organisations and 20 were from individuals. Many individual respondents either indicated a clinical background or submitted responses from NHS email addresses. Organisational respondents included NHS organisations, including Public Health Scotland, private abortion care providers (not based in Scotland), faith organisations, pro-life groups, and women's organisations.

The analysis[2] of the consultation responses shows that overall responses were in favour of the proposed changes, with the greatest support for enabling electronic submission of notifications (91%), followed by permitting a period longer than seven days in which to do so provide notifications (79% of those who answered the question, with the greatest proportion supporting a one month period – 45%) and enabling data to be provided directly to PHS (73% of those who answered the question).

Comments in support of the specific proposals mainly focused on the benefits in terms of streamlining processes, providing increased flexibility and increased data privacy. The future data requirements was a key area of focus for those who caveated their support for the proposals, including the need to ensure transparency about data requirements and the opportunities for increased/improved data collection. Responses also focused on the practicalities of moving from one system to another and the need to ensure synchronisation and no data loss as a result.

3.2 Within government

The proposals have been discussed and developed with internal colleagues in the following areas: data protection, CMO's office, Scottish Government Legal Directorate and the team which sponsors Public Health Scotland.

3.3 Business

There is only one private provider of abortion services approved by Scottish Ministers (BMI Ross Hall Hospital) which provides a very small number of terminations per year, typically fewer than five. BMI Ross Hall Hospital was invited to respond to the consultation. It did not respond in writing, but the Scottish Government subsequently arranged a meeting with them (along with PHS) to discuss the proposals.


Email: sam.baker@gov.scot

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