11 November 2010

Do abortion services really make a ‘vast amount of money’?

A blog on the Liberal Conspiracy website challenges Nadine Dorries MP's latest claims.

Unity writes:

You may well have noticed that, amongst other things, Nadine Dorries has chosen to climb back on her favourite abortion hobby horse by giving a truly risible speech to parliament during an adjournment debate.

In the very first paragraph of Dorries’ speech she says:

‘Abortion in this country is an industry from which a small number of organisations and individuals make vast amounts of money.’

Really? Vast amounts of money? Well let’s have a look, shall we.

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service is one of the larger providers of contraception, abortion and related sexual health services in the UK and, happily for our purposes, its also a registered charity (No. 289145), all of which means that its really easy to follow the money and assess the veracity of Dorries’ statement.

The organisation operates a national telephone helpline and associated call centre which handles around 290,000 calls a year, within incoming calls charged at local rate. It counsels around 70,000 women a year on their abortion option and, based on information taken from its most recent published accounts, provides and another 39-40,000 consulatations a year to women seeking help and advice in relation to contraception, STI’s etc.

Of the 70,000 women seeking advice on abortion, 55,000 go on to take up the procedure at one of BPAS’s 22 clinics or day care centres, with 93% of patients getting their treatment paid for by the NHS.

BPAS currently has service agreements with 96 NHS Primary Care Trusts and 11 Local Health Boards and accounts for around 25-27% the abortions carried out in England and Wales each year.

Taking information from its annual accounts, we find that, for the year 2009/10, BPAS’s annual income was £25.042 million of which all but £33k was derived from fees for services.

Abortion costs

For 2009-10, the standard NHS tariff for abortions ranged from £502 for a medical abortion to £649 for a ‘D&E’ (surgical dilation and extraction). Had BPAS done nothing else that year but carry out medical abortions for the NHS at its standard tariff then, with 93% (51500) of its clients having their treatment paid for by the state, it would have generated an income of £25.85 million from the NHS.

This would be £840,000 more than its actual income for the year. Far from making ‘vast amounts of money’ it seems that BPAS actually provides the NHS with a range of cost effective services at less the NHS’s own internal tariffs.

On the expenditure side, BPAS spent £22.96 million on service provision and further £811k on education and research. As ever, the big ticket items in the expenditure column are the total staff and related costs, including agency and other fees (£14.84 million on the service side and £359k education and research) with actual salary costs for the year weighing in at £10.96 million.

Take the organisation’s top earners – seven employees who earn in excess of £60k a year – out of the equation and the average (mean) full-time salary at BPAS is around £28k a year gross, rather less than half the amount that Dorries pockets at the House of Commons.

If you’re only in it for the money, the slur that Dorries levels at abortion service providers, then there are any number of more lucrative options you could choose to pursue, whether its the traditional consulting rooms on Harley Street or, perhaps, the kind of job that allows you to stick your friends and family on expenses and send the bill to the taxpayer.

Do abortion services really make a ‘vast amount of money’? Liberal Conspiracy, 8 November 2010

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