Skip to main content

Regulator calls on fertility patients to help shape future UK fertility treatment

HFEA launches national patient survey as part of Fertility Awareness Week (1-5 November)

Fertility patients and their partners are being urged to share their views and experiences to help shape the future of fertility treatment and policy in the UK.

The fertility regulator, the HFEA, today launched its second National Patient Survey, as part of Fertility Awareness Week, seeking views from patients and their partners who have experienced fertility treatment in the last 10 years.

The survey looks at various aspects of fertility treatment including access to information, expectations and realities of private and NHS treatment, overall patient care and treatment outcomes.

The research also explores the differences of treatment experiences by ethnic groups, following the regulator’s Ethnic Diversity in Fertility Treatment report released earlier this year, which highlighted major disparities in treatment outcomes for Black and other ethnic minority groups.

Julia Chain, HFEA Chair said:

Following our last patient survey in 2018 and with the HFEA being in its 30th anniversary year, we are keen to get an accurate picture of the current treatment experiences of patients and their partners.

Fertility treatment has changed dramatically since the HFEA was established more than three decades ago, and with the recent impact of the pandemic, it’s now more important than ever to hear from patients to help us have a better understanding of patient experience and to determine how things have changed in the fertility sector in recent years.

We know that there are disparities in treatment outcomes among different patient groups and it’s important that we hear from patients directly, to better understand why these disparities exist and how we may be able to address them. It is particularly important that we hear from underrepresented groups such as ethnic minority patients and their partners, to ensure their views and experiences are reflected in our future policy decisions and guidance.

The HFEA will be using the survey results to inform its work to improve overall patient experiences, make recommendations for policy, and review clinic practice and guidance in the Code of Practice for fertility clinics.

To enable as many fertility patients as possible to have their say and capture a variety of views on access to services, experiences and treatment outcomes, the survey will run for four weeks, closing on 5 December.

Minister for Patient Safety, Maria Caulfield, said:

We have made great strides in fertility treatment over the last 30 years, bringing new life into the world and great joy to new parents.

While there has been progress, I know the sector still faces challenges, and there continue to be inequalities in people’s experiences.

We are committed to levelling up services across the UK and I urge all prospective parents, especially those from black or ethnic minority backgrounds, who have experienced fertility treatment to share their experiences – your views will help shape the future of these services.

Gwenda Burns, Chief Executive of leading patient charity Fertility Network said:

It is essential fertility patients’ experience of treatment is equitable and as positive as possible, but unfortunately this is not yet the case for everyone accessing fertility services.

Some patients do not feel supported or do not receive the information or care they need.

That’s why we encourage current and past fertility patients and their partners to have their say and tell the fertility regulator what it is really like during this often distressing time and highlight, if needed, how the process can be improved.

Review date: 2 November 2023