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New HFEA Chair writes open letter to fertility patients

Julia Chain, Chair of the HFEA, has written an open letter to fertility patients to introduce herself as the new Chair.

I wanted to write to you personally to introduce myself as the new Chair of the HFEA. I am very excited and privileged to take up this role in the organisation’s 30th anniversary year.

In the short time I have been in post I have been impressed by the many ways that the HFEA puts patients at the heart of our work. Whether it is in reviewing patient feedback at clinic inspections, updating and adding to the huge amount of information on the HFEA website, or considering - at every decision - what the impact will be for patients.

The development of fertility treatment and the improvements in successful outcomes over the last 30 years have been extraordinary – but I know that it is not an easy journey for many people and there is still much more to be done. We will continue to highlight where more changes should take place, whether that is in looking at how different patients may have different outcomes, or how to address other types of inequalities.

We want to do all we can to ensure there is equal access to high quality fertility treatment for everyone. We regulate to ensure that clinics adhere to the highest standards of care in both the private sector and the NHS, and under my watch, we will continue to treat all clinics consistently.

The last year, during the pandemic, has been a particularly stressful time for many fertility patients. The HFEA did all it could to make sure the fertility sector was the first healthcare sector to reopen, and we have worked closely with clinics to keep fertility services going under difficult circumstances. I look forward to the further lifting of restrictions so that clinics can get back to a more normal way of working in time.

The HFEA has an ambitious strategy over the next few years with several clear priorities including how we can make best use of the data we hold and improve our information for patients still further.

Patients having fertility treatment are inundated with information about what is ‘best’, and how to maximise their chances of having a baby. The HFEA website is the best starting point to find out about different types of treatment. I have been impressed with how much information is on there but I will also ensure that the website continues to be updated and is as helpful to patients as it can be.

Patients are and will continue to be at the heart of our work at the HFEA.

Listening to and engaging in a meaningful dialogue with patients is vital to ensure the HFEA can regulate effectively, and it is something that I personally am wholly committed to. I look forward to meeting some of you over the coming months and hearing your experiences and concerns. In the meantime please keep up to date with our work via our digital and social media channels and stay in touch with us

Review date: 8 September 2023