Press releases and statements

HFEA refocuses the sanctions of its successful multiple births policy

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has today decided to withdraw one of the enforcement powers underpinning its multiple births policy. From 1 January 2014, IVF clinics will no longer be subject to a condition on their licence that they keep their multiple births rate below the HFEA target.

With strong involvement from professional and patient organisations, the Authority’s policy on reducing multiple births following IVF has already had a positive impact: multiple births rates have reduced from 1 in 4 IVF births to 1 in 6, whilst success rates remain steady. However, in the light of a challenge launched by two UK clinics, resulting in considerable cost to the HFEA, the Authority decided at its board meeting in London to remove the licence condition, instead concentrating on other, existing powers to enforce the policy.

HFEA Chair, Lisa Jardine, said today:

‘We believe strongly in our multiple births policy – as do IVF professionals and patient groups, who have worked hard to reduce the avoidable risk of a multiple pregnancy over the past several years. The policy stands and we will still expect clinics to bring the multiple birth rate down to 10% – in the interests of IVF mothers and their babies.’

Commenting on the reasons for removing the licence condition, Lisa Jardine continued: ‘It is simply not appropriate that two of the 83 IVF clinics should not have this particular condition on their licences. Professionals are entitled to a level playing field and, by removing this licence condition, that is what we will achieve. We believe that our time and resources are better spent continuing to work productively with the IVF sector on behalf of patients to bring the multiple birth rate down to acceptable levels.’

Full details around the Multiple births licence condition can be found in the Authority meeting minutes for November 2013.


Notes to editors

  • In 2009, the HFEA launched a campaign called One at a Time ( to inform patients and clinics about the risk associated with multiple births and the steps that be taken to avoid them without significantly damaging success rates.
  • Since 2009, the overall multiple births rate has reduced from 24% to close to 15%. Clinics are now working towards a new target of 10%, a level achieved in a number of other countries such as Sweden.
  • The HFEA is the independent regulator for IVF treatment and embryo research. Our role is to protect patients and the public interest, to drive improvement in the treatment and research sectors and to provide information to the public and policymakers about treatment and research.

For further information please contact the HFEA press office on 020 7291 8226 or email


Page last updated: 21 November 2013