RCPCH publishes safeguarding guidance for children and young people under 18 accessing early medical abortion services

Parliament made the decision to legislate to make permanent provision for the remote delivery of early medical abortion services in England and Wales, in line with the temporary arrangements introduced at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) are taking forward work to strengthen safeguarding for children and young people (CYP) under 18 years old accessing EMA services. This is to ensure that under 18s are appropriately safeguarded when accessing EMA services, and to ensure there is consistency across the system in the implementation of robust safeguarding processes and procedures. 

The UK Government commissioned the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) to lead on the development of this safeguarding guidance for abortions under 10 weeks. The full safeguarding guidance has been published and can be accessed here.

All RCPCH guidance is applicable to children and young people across the UK and sets out a standard of care that should be applied across the nations. The guidance is applicable to health organisations providing early medical abortions to children and young people under 18 years old across the UK. Many of the safeguarding principles within this guidance will be applicable to other sexual health and maternity services. 

The aim of this guidance is to ensure that:

  • Every CYP has access to EMA in a timely manner
  • CYPs holistic and safeguarding needs are identified and acted upon

The safeguarding aims will be achieved by ensuring that: 

  • opportunities to identify safeguarding concerns and appropriate support are maximised
  • there is consistency across health organisations providing EMA services in the implementation of robust safeguarding processes and procedures 
  • unintended mid and late trimester abortions at home are prevented

As with all RCPCH guidance it will be reviewed in due course. As the lead organisation, the DHSC are considering implementation plans and timelines and will set out expectations out shortly.