February 2002

A summary of the one hundred and fifteenth meeting of the
Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority on 28 February 2002

Matters arising from the January meeting

The minutes of the January Authority meeting were approved.

Pre-implantation diagnosis with tissue typing

Members were informed that the first licence for pre-implantation genetic diagnosis with tissue typing had been approved by a Licence Committee. It was anticipated that further applications would be submitted to the Authority on behalf of other couples who wished to use this technique and that these would be considered on a case by case basis.

New chairman

The name of the new Chairman had been announced by the Department of Health. The current Chairman informed Members that the future Chairman, Suzi Leather, was currently the Deputy Chairman of the Food Standards Agency.

Chairman's business

Annual report
The Chairman expressed concerns about the delayed publication of the Patients' Guides and the Annual Report. The Chief Executive explained that the Annual Report was now ready for publication but it would contain no statistics. The unavailability of statistics also meant that the Patients' Guides could not be published.

It was proposed to generate new aggregate data for the Patients' Guides from the clinics, which would be supported and verified by sample auditing of data. This would be published on the website in the summer. Print copies would be available from the HFEA office on request. It was suggested that this process would enable the website to be regularly updated, making it a more dynamic guide for use by patients and other stakeholders.

Stem cells

The House of Lords Select Committee report on stem cell research had been circulated to Members. The report acknowledged the importance of the HFEA and recommended that the funding of the HFEA should be amended to reflect the additional work required for the effective monitoring of research under the new Regulations. It was noted that Members would have an opportunity to discuss this at a future retreat.

Chief Executive's Business

Funding
The Chief Executive informed Members of her discussions with the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Health with respect to core funding of the HFEA. These discussions had resulted in agreement to support additional spending on areas such as the Register, but it was agreed that there was a need to develop a 3-4 year plan to improve systems within the organisation.

Regulation

The Director of Regulation presented Members with some observations about HFEA regulatory issues. Members noted the introduction of new management processes for Regulation that had necessitated a shift in priorities and the work plan.

Consultations

Members were updated on the sex selection consultation process that was being funded by the Department of Health. Members would be provided with the terms of reference for the consultation exercise. The first stage would be reported back to Members at the May meeting of the Authority.

Members noted that the Ethics Committee was to discuss the Department of Health consultation on donor information and the first draft of a response would be brought before Members in May.

Members noted there were ongoing meetings with the MRC to discuss the regulation of stem cell research. Members requested that a paper outlining these discussions and the approach that was being adopted should come to the Authority for discussion.

Funding, Fees and 2002/3 Business Plan

The need for an increase in the level of fees was discussed. Members noted that the amount charged to clinics in the way of fees paid to the HFEA had decreased in recent years and that fee levels would need to increase to support the regulatory functions of the Authority. Members were reminded that fees charged by a regulatory body should cover the cost of the regulatory service provided and that it should be considered to be a benefit rather than a burden to clinics and patients.

Members discussed the need for clinics to be given a reasonable notice period before a fee increase, the need for co-operation with clinics and the potential benefits of a monthly, rather than annual, billing system.

Other Business

Indemnification of Persons Responsible
A report was given of the Persons Responsible meeting held by the BFS. Several issues had been raised including legal indemnification and defence in their positions as PR of a licensed centre. The HFEA may need to provide additional support to help PRs in their roles.

Ruth Deech

It was the last meeting for Ruth Deech after seven years as Chairman of the HFEA. The Deputy Chairman thanked the Chairman and commented on her notable achievements in policy development and work with the media.

Date of next meeting

The date of the next Authority meeting is Thursday 21st March.

Page last updated: 24 October 2011