BFS responds to the publication of HFEA Report on Ethnic Diversity in Fertility Treatment

The BFS welcomes the publication of the HFEA report on ethnic diversity in fertility treatment. This report highlights differences in access to, and outcomes of, licensed fertility treatment among different ethnic groups.

It is likely that there are complex biological, socio-economic and cultural reasons underlying the differences identified. However, there are also potentially structural reasons why, for instance, Black women are on average 2 years older than their White counterparts when they start IVF. The report also confirms what fertility professionals have long noted, the relative shortage of egg and sperm donors from minority ethnic groups.

As the organisation representing UK fertility professionals, the BFS supports improved and consistent access to fertility treatments across all ethnic groups. We recognise that this involves diverse responses, from encouraging healthy lifestyles to working with primary care providers to improve referral pathways into fertility services and working with communities to help eradicate the stigma associated with infertility. This work should extend to creating a space where talking about fertility issues and treatments, including donor gametes, becomes an accepted and ‘normal’ part of the conversation in all our communities.

The data which this report is based on were collected by staff working in the highly-regulated UK fertility sector. As professionals providing fertility care, we support fair and equitable NHS funding of fertility services. This report makes clear that restricting the number of NHS-funded IVF cycles disproportionately affects some ethnic groups with a lower per cycle success rate and NHS commissioners should take note of this in their funding decisions.