Staff felt pressured to encourage women to undergo abortions or lose their bonuses at one of the country's largest abortion providers, a report has found.
A Care Quality Commission inspection of the Marie Stopes International Clinic in Maidstone said that staff raised concerns that a women's choice about whether to terminate their pregnancy was linked to the staff's 'key performance indicators' (KPI), according to The Times.
'Staff were concerned that "did not proceed", the term used when women decided not to go ahead with treatment, was measured as a KPI and linked to their performance bonus. They felt that this encouraged staff to ensure that patients underwent procedures,' the report said.
'Staff were also concerned that the pressurised environment and linking of KPIs to performance bonuses meant that there was a culture that worked against patient choice.'
The report said that one staff member described the environment at the clinic as 'feeling like a hamster in a wheel' and the phrase 'cattle market' was used repeatedly.
It added that 'staff reported a very target-driven culture, with a timed slot for each patient', while 'partners, parents and other supporters were seen as an inconvenience and their presence was discouraged'.
The report also said that minutes were found about a company policy relating to some women who chose not to have abortions, who 'were being called and offered a later appointment'.
Marie Stopes said: 'The number of our clients who choose not to go ahead with treatment is not a KPI for our staff, and never has been. It is categorically untrue that any member of our staff receives a performance-related bonus for the number of clients they treat.
'We follow a stringent consent process for all of our clients, and will not proceed with a procedure if we have any doubt at all that a woman is unsure of her decision.'
The CEO of the Christian campaigning group CARE, Nola Leach said: 'This report highlights serious failings at Marie Stopes International (MSI), raising serious questions about whether or not they are fit for purpose. It is completely unacceptable that the decision about whether a woman proceeds with a termination should be considered in any way shape or form as criteria for staff performance evaluation, let alone linked to a performance bonus, or that this should be the experience that staff working in MSI Clinics describe. This creates considerable incentives for staff to proceed with abortions, even if the patients are undecided or if it's not in the woman's best interest.
'Women who are deciding what to do in the event of an unplanned pregnancy deserve better than this. They should be treated with dignity and not be forced to make such a significant decision under pressure. The CQC's findings again raise the issue of in whose best interests Clinics such as MSI operate. This is not the first case even this year where Marie Stopes has been accused of failing women at their clinics. It is clear more needs to be done to ensure the welfare and care of both women and their unborn children. CARE urges the Government to rethink the decision on whether Marie Stopes Clinics can be trusted with tax payers' money.'