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Ladies in waiting: the timeliness of first trimester services in New Zealand

Reproductive Health
Springer (Biomed Central Ltd.)
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1186/1742-4755-7-19
  • Research


Background Termination of pregnancy (TOP) services are a core service in New Zealand. However, compared to other developed countries, TOP services are accessed significantly later in the first trimester, increasing the risk for complications. The aim of this study is to examine the timeliness of access to first trimester TOP services and establish the length of delay between different points in the care pathway for these services. Methodology Data were collected from all patients attending nine TOP clinics around the country between February and May 2009 (N = 2950). Patient records were audited to determine the timeline between the first point of entry to the health system to the date of termination. In addition, women were invited to fill out a questionnaire to identify personal level factors affecting access to services (N = 1086, response rate = 36.8%). Results Women waited an average of almost 25 days between the date of the first visit with the referring doctor and the date of their termination procedure. There was a delay of 10 days between the first visit with the referring doctor and the date that the appointment for the procedure was booked, and a further 10 days delay between the date the appointment was booked and the first appointment date. Over half of the women in this study had their pregnancy terminated at ten weeks or above. Conclusion Women in New Zealand are subject to a lengthy delay while seeking TOP services. Efforts should be made by TOP clinics as well as referring doctors to reduce the waiting times for this service.

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