Agreement paves way for abortion services to begin in January

Doctors will be paid €450 for three visits and will not be compelled to participate

The Government has reached agreement with family doctors to operate its planned GP-led service for the provision of abortions from next year.

As part of the deal agreed with the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) on Wednesday, doctors who accept the new contract will receive a total fee of €450 covering three visits – made up of a payment of €150 to cover the initial consultation with the patient and a further €300 for carrying out the termination procedure and the delivery of aftercare.

The HSE will write to GPs in the coming days seeking expressions of interest in taking up the new contract.

The IMO said the new agreement involved the introduction of a stand-alone contract which allowed each GP to make an individual choice as to whether or not to provide the service.


“Any GP who holds a conscientious objection will not be in any way compelled to participate in the contract,” the IMO said.

Minister for Health Simon Harris welcomed the agreement with the doctors' organisation on the new contract for provision of termination of pregnancy services in community settings. He said the majority of terminations up to nine weeks gestation would take place in community settings.

“The agreement of this contract is a significant step in the detailed preparations for the introduction of termination of pregnancy services at the beginning of January,” Mr Harris said.

“It enables the HSE to offer the contract in sufficient time for doctors to consider its terms and, if they wish to take up the contract, to advise the HSE of this. I would like to acknowledge the constructive engagement by the IMO on this sensitive issue.”

The Department of Health said that in line with the provisions in the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018, a termination would involve two visits to a medical practitioner. It said the service would also include a third visit for aftercare.


The department said it was intended that those interested in providing the service would return the signed copy of the contract to the HSE by early December so that services can commence from the beginning of January.

The IMO said it recognised the difficult decision faced by many doctors in relation to the provision of terminations and at all times sought to ensure respect for the views of individual members as to whether they wished to offer these services or not in line with the provisions of the Medical Council guidelines in respect of matters of conscience.

The doctors’ trade union said the resources attached to this contract “reflected the complex nature of the service and the challenges posed to doctors in caring for the women who choose to avail of this service”.

The IMO said it believed “the service is adequately resourced at GP level and notes the requirement to resource the hospital system to care for women within the scope of these services”.

Chairman of the IMO’s GP committee Dr Pádraig McGarry said: “During these negotiations we sought to protect the rights of all our members in terms of the delivery of the service.

“It was necessary to conclude the negotiations at this time so as to ensure each GP has the opportunity and time to consider the contractual terms and workload before the proposed implementation date of 1st January.”

Dr McGarry said it had been agreed between the parties that should there be any amendments to the legislation before the Dáil that would impact in any way on the operation or terms of the contract, these would be agreed with the IMO and implemented before the proposed start date of the service in January.

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is the former Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent