Update 10.58am: Obstetricians, hospitals and general practitioners are not going to be ready to provide abortion services on January 1, 2019, says a GP who specialises in gynaecology and paediatrics.
There are not enough details available yet on the proposed helpline or the website, Dr Illona Duffy told RTE’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show.
Dr Duffy was responding to a walkout by a number of doctors yesterday at a meeting of GPs to discuss concerns about the provision of abortion.
More than 300 members of the Irish College of General Practitioners attended the three-hour extraordinary general meeting in Malahide, but the group of mostly anti-abortion doctors staged a walkout after half an hour.
Dr Duffy said the meeting was important to allow GPs to express their concerns and was not necessarily for those who were opposed to the provision of abortion services. She had signed the petition calling for the EGM because of her concern about the lack of planning for the introduction of abortion services.
She pointed out that in most other countries such services are provided mainly through clinics.
Dr Duffy said: “Ireland is one of the only countries where abortion services will be through GPs, it is usually through clinics. In most countries patients self-refer to clinics.”
There is a concern that GPs are already under pressure and this is an attempt to provide the service “on the cheap”.
She said: “GPs will be left dealing with this complicated process. This is being done without consultation and without taking our concerns into consideration.”
Another GP, Dr Kirsten Fuller, who was one of those who left the meeting on Sunday, said that she did not believe that general practice was an appropriate setting for abortion services.
Dr Duffy said this was a missed opportunity by the Minister for Health to provide free contraception. “He made no effort. We should be trying to prevent unwanted pregnancies so we would not have to perform abortions.”
Dr Fuller said that she wanted to be protected by law as a conscientious objector. She said it was sad that the Minister had taken a stance without consulting with GPs.
The Department of Health has told the HSE to make sure abortion services will be available in the country's maternity hospitals from January 1, 2019.
The Times Ireland edition reports training for medical workers will get underway next week ahead of the anticipated rollout.
The Irish College of General Practitioners has said it is sorry that those who walked out of its meeting yesterday did not stay to listen.
They were discussing the abortion legislation that is due to come into force in January.
A number of doctors walked out, some had conscientious objections to providing the service while others had concerns over increasing workloads.
Health Minister Simon Harris has said doctors have a right to object to providing the service but says women also have a right to healthcare.
GP in Kerry, Andrew O'Regan, feels their voices were not heard.
Dr O'Regan said: "This time 650 GPs petitioned the IAGP for an EGM, the IAGP held an EGM but said that the petition was not done properly and to our dismay at the EGM, all calls for a vote, all calls for any sort of democratic process were denied."
A group representing hundreds of nurses and midwives say they are standing with the doctors who are unhappy with the preparations.
Fiona McHugh from Nurses and Midwives 4 Life says there are clinical implications which still have not been addressed.
Ms McHugh said: "We've had no meetings with Minister Harris at all, in fact, we've had no meetings whatsoever.
"This service is to be rolled out in January and any service that is new to healthcare, there would be talk about how this is going to happen, you'd have to work through a process.
"None of this has happened, we're completely and utterly in the dark."
- Digital Desk