British Fertility Society response to HFEA Inspection report

The British Fertility Society (BFS) welcomes the HFEA’s general conclusion that the majority of clinics are meeting most of the standards expected by the HFEA, and that they provide a good service for patients. At the same time we recognise that there are areas which can be improved, and we and our members will continue to work with the HFEA to achieve better standards of patient care.

In the UK some 40,000 IVF treatment cycles are carried out every year and more than 10,000 babies born as a result. With this volume of work it is inevitable that on a few occasions some patients may express dissatisfaction with care. Every complaint, including those alluded to in this report, merits serious attention. The need to provide patients with comprehensive information about infertility and its treatment is fundamental to good medical practice and the principle of a patient-centred approach to infertility care is something which the BFS has supported for many years. The Society has in recent times been at the heart of the drive to increase standards of care for infertile patients and has been pleased to work closely with the HFEA in standard setting in many areas of clinical and laboratory practice.

This report provides reassurance to the 1 in 6 couples in our society, who face infertility problems, that the vast majority of clinics in the vast majority of instances are doing a good job. All clinics in the country have, in the past 3 years, been co-operating with the HFEA in a scheme of sharing information about the rare instances where clinical or laboratory practice falls short of the highest standard. Such instances, as with patient complaints, are very infrequent but the alert scheme now established has allowed clinics to learn from each other in a positive way.

In any organisation, there is always room for improvement in terms of delivery of service, communication, efficiency etc. The BFS continues to work hard with clinics as well as the regulator to ensure that infertile patients in the UK receive the best possible care.