1. When is the clinic opening and where will it be based?
Marie Stopes Northern Ireland is opening a world class sexual and reproductive health centre in central Belfast. It is scheduled to open next Thursday.
2. How many staff will be working at the clinic and what services will it offer?
A wide range of sexual and reproductive services are available from the centre, including: short and long-term contraceptive options (including condoms, injection, IUD); emergency contraception; HIV testing; STI testing and treatment; ultrasound scanning; and medical abortion up to nine weeks’ gestation. A centre manager, two doctors, a psychiatrist, a nurse and a receptionist will be offering high quality care to men and women.
3. Will medical abortions be offered at the clinic?
Medical abortion up to nine weeks’ gestation will be available at the centre. Our provision of early medical abortion will be the same service that is currently available from the NHS in Northern Ireland, available only within the current legal framework: that is, if a woman’s life is at immediate risk or there is a risk of ‘real and serious’ long term or permanent damage to her physical or mental health, she may have an abortion in Northern Ireland.
4. How will the clinic be funded?
User fees will form a part of the centre’s operating model but initially, the international organisation will fund our work in Belfast.
5. Will clients need to be referred by a GP or can they simply phone up to make an appointment?
They will be able to self refer by calling our 24 hour One Call helpline, which is staffed by trained health professionals. GPs will also be able to direct women to our services.
6. What contact has Marie Stopes had with the health authorities here – for example, RQIA and the Department of Health?
The RQIA have been informed about our plans for the centre.
7. Will the clinic help women who decide to travel to England for abortions to make their plans, book appointments etc?
The centre will provide a safe space for women to discuss all their options, and will offer information to a range of services in England, as well as options in Northern Ireland if women decide to continue with the pregnancy or alternatively look at adoption. If women wish to travel to England they would have to call our One Call helpline.
8. Will the clinic be a similar set up to the one in Dublin?
This will be a world class fully integrated sexual and reproductive health centre offering services to women and men in Belfast. The Reproductive Choices centre in Dublin offers support and gestational scanning services.