NHS pays £430 for an Abortion

We can estimate that in 2018, the average fee paid by the NHS for an abortion in England was ~£430. This is calculated from the following, though of course it is an estimate as the timeframes are not the same, and data are taken from multiple reports.

In 2018, BPAS performed 71,881 abortions in England and Wales, of which the DHSC reported that 97% were funded by the NHS. Source: Clinic Data Tables

In the year ending 31st March 2018, BPAS reported total fees for services £30,974,000. Source: Charity Commission

In 2018, the NHS provided 1,053 abortions in England and Wales for women from Northern Ireland. Source: DHSC (PDF)

Recently the Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care) Helen Whately gave the following answer to a question raised by Fiona Bruce MP: “The cost of supporting women travelling from Northern Ireland to England to access abortion services in 2018/19 was around £1.08 million. This includes the cost of the procedure and travel and accommodation. The cost of this scheme is met by the Government Equalities Office through funding provided by HM Treasury.” Source: Hansard

So, that means it cost approximately £1,000 for each NI woman treated, which seems reasonable given the above noted average for residents in England and Wales, plus travel and accommodation.

All of which raises a couple of questions, which deserve further debate:

  1. Wouldn’t it be appropriate for the DHSC to start making some of this funding available to those organisations which provide support to women, who after the initial counselling, choose to continue their unplanned pregnancy?
  2. Perhaps it is time to reconsider the rate of fees being paid by Clinical Commissioning Groups to independent sector providers, such as BPAS and MSI, given that most abortions will now be self-managed by women at home after a remote consultation. The operating costs for such a service will be significantly less than when services were being provided in the clinic, which in the recent past often involved two separate visits by each client.

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