A Northern Irish fertility clinic has protested against a regulatory
notice which could mean it has to stop accepting new patients.
Origin Fertility Care in Belfast was inspected by the
Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA), the health and social care
regulatory body for Northern Ireland, which not only flagged concerns about
non-compliance with regulations, but noted that, on follow-up, these problems
had not been sufficiently addressed.
According to the RQIA the clinic had failed to comply with
eight of its regulations, including a lack of staff supervision, training, and
inadequate handling of complaints and patient records.
After early inspections, the clinic closed in June for two
weeks in order to reorganise, but when the RQIA visited after it re-opened, it
still found that regulations were not being adhered to. The RQIA issued a
'notice of proposal' in July, putting the wheels in motion for its closure. It
said that the clinic's failure to meet regulatory standards had 'led to
concern regarding the ongoing safety and wellbeing of patients and Origin
Fertility Care's ability to deliver a safe and effective service at this time'.
But the clinic, which has 28 days to appeal, believes that
the RQIA's decision was premature and is challenging it, telling the BBC it is
seeking legal recourse to 'protect their good name and reputation'.
A notice to patients placed on its website read: 'We are
robustly challenging the findings of the last inspection and the resultant
notice of proposal'.
Origin managing director Jenny Hall also told the BBC that
the clinic was satisfied that systems now in place ensure a 'high standard of
service to patients'.
'Publication has occurred before we had ever viewed their "detailed report" and without being given an opportunity to respond to the
points raised', she said, adding that she felt the RQIA had potentially created
'a circumstance of uncertainty particularly for vulnerable patients currently
Some politicians have voiced approval over the RQIA's actions.
Jim Wells, deputy chair of the Northern Ireland Assembly's health committee, who
recently sparked a row after claiming victims of sexual assault should not be
exempt from laws prohibiting abortion, told the Belfast Telegraph earlier in
August that he was relieved the healthcare regulator is 'showing its teeth'.
'Hopefully as a result of this intervention this clinic will
be put back on an even keel', he said.