BFS statement on reform of HFE Act

The process of reform of the HFE Act has started, with the release of the HFEA document containing proposals for change. We welcome the opportunity to improve the way the law works for patients and professionals.

The British Fertility Society (BFS) welcomes the opportunity to modernise the Human Fertility and
Embryology Act so that it better serves patients, practitioners and society. This Act has been crucial
in developing and maintaining public confidence in what was once a novel field of medicine, but is
now routine medical care. Current legislation is no longer consistent with many scientific advances
and social change.

The BFS is pleased to see that the regulator has proposed that the law be reformed to remove the
undue need for secrecy which currently exists around fertility treatment. This is outdated and puts
patient safety at risk. Further, current requirements for consent prior to treatment are impractical
and cumbersome, and in need of modernisation.

Reform of the Act is a once in a generation opportunity and members of the BFS have prepared a
detailed outline of what we consider should be updated, in our document.

Dr Raj Mathur, Chair of the BFS said ‘The UK is a world leader in sensible regulation of fertility
treatment, but some aspects of the current law make life unduly difficult for patients and clinicians.
We are keen to work with the regulator and government to make the Act fit for the 21st Century’.
Professor Alison Murdoch, President of the BFS said ‘When IVF first started, there was
understandable anxiety in society about its safety, and a stigma attached to patients who needed to
have this new treatment. The situation now is very different, with wide social acceptance, rising
success rates and more than 8 million babies having been born world-wide from IVF. The time has
come for the law governing IVF to be modernised, so that it can support patients seeking
parenthood and clinicians wishing to deliver innovative treatments.’