July 2003

A summary of the one hundred and twenty ninth meeting of the
Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority on 10 July 2003

Matter arising from the June meeting

The minutes from the June Authority meeting were approved with some minor amendments.

Chair's Report

The issue of egg giving was raised and it was proposed that a Chair's letter be sent to all clinics to clarify the HFEA's standpoint on this issue. It was agreed that the Chair's letter should make clear definitions between egg `giving' and egg `sharing', and also that a wider review of the issue should be undertaken. The Chief Executive also indicated that the British Fertility Society's opinions on this matter would be sought, and that new HFEA guidelines would be produced in December 2003.

The Chair reported on the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology's meeting in Madrid in June 2003 and the focal issue of risk that were discussed at the conference. It was noted that the ESHRE Chairman had supported the use of HLA tissue typing even where there was no reason to use PGD.

It was also noted that the HFEA response to the first consultation on the NICE Guidelines had been sent out, and additional data was being sent to NICE upon request.

Chief Executive's Report

The Chief Executive reported that the National Audit Office had decided to remove the existing qualifications on the HFEA's accounts. The HFEA's accounts team were commended for all their work to achieve this decision.

There had been much interest in the public advertisement for a new in-house legal post within the HFEA, and those Members with legal expertise were asked to consider being on the interview panel for this job. This post will report directly to the HFEA Chief Executive.

Public access to HFEA inspection reports

A report setting out the process whereby the HFEA will make its Licence Committee Outcomes and Inspection Reports public was reviewed. The Authority agreed that a plain English approach should be taken to the writing of these documents for ease of comprehension. In the spirit of openness and accountability, it was agreed that the reports should be expanded to include more information on the HFEA licensing process and also include patient feedback information and a counselling audit.

The Authority agreed that clinic and patient group opinion should be obtained on these draft report formats, and that the release of the forms should be delayed until September 2003 to allow for sufficient feedback from these important stakeholders. It was agreed that the final reports should be made available on the HFEA website.   

Patient feedback on inspections

Three different proposals for pilot projects on patient feedback in the HFEA inspection process had been developed in response to a request from the Minister of State. These were discussed and all were supported as pilot projects which would be extended for a four month period. A fourth proposed model was also agreed based upon a German model of patient questionnaires that are given out at the time of embryo transfers.

The process of revalidating current HFEA inspectors was also discussed. The Authority recommended that the categories relating to social and ethical inspectors should be re-evaluated, and also that specifications for inspections relating to nursing, counselling and genetics should be carried out in the coming months.

EU Tissue Directive

It was reported that at a meeting held with representatives from the Association for Clinical Embryologists and the British Fertility Society concerns over the implications for centres on the introduction of the EU Tissue Directive had been raised. It was agreed that both the scope and the representation of the HFEA working group on the Directive should be expanded. The case for the use of fresh gametes being regulated by the HFEA was supported, and the Authority agreed that it would recommend that this should be included in the related Bill.

Date of the next meeting

The date of the next Authority meeting will be 18 September 2003.

Page last updated: 24 October 2011