Our Authority, committees and panels
The Authority, our board, meets regularly throughout the year to discuss and determine policy and practice. The meetings are based around draft papers which have been reviewed by our committees and panels which are made up of staff, Authority members and people outside of the HFEA who are all chosen for their expertise in particular areas. This page tells you more about each committee and panel and directs you to meeting papers if they are published.
Our Authority meetings act as public board meetings where Authority members discuss and determine policy.
Our Authority meeting page contains everything you need to know, including when it meets, and who sits on it. You can also read through past Authority meeting papers and listen to recording of the meetings and find out how to attend.
Find out more about our Authority meetings.
If a clinic disagrees with a decision made at our Licence Committee or Executive Licensing Panel, it has the right to appeal it through the Appeals Committee.
This committee is made up of people who are not Authority members of staff so they can give an impartial perspective.
Read about upcoming appeals.
Sometimes our committees need external members and advisers to help them with their work. This committee makes decisions about who to appoint for these roles and meets as and when is needed.
Audit and Governance Committee
This committee makes sure we have rules and practices in place to make us accountable, fair and transparent. It meets four times a year to discuss issues such as how we manage risks, audit arrangements and financial matters.
Read the AGC’s previous meeting papers.
Legislative Reform Advisory Group
The Legislative Reform Advisory Group has been set up to provide expert input on a range of issues relating to the HFEA’s proposed changes to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 (as amended).
The Group is chaired by the HFEA Chair, Julia Chain and its members are:
- David Archard (Chair, Nuffield Council on Bioethics)
- Nina Barnsley (Chief Executive, Donor Conception Network)
- Gwenda Burns (Chief Executive, Fertility Network UK)
- Tim Child (Chair, HFEA Scientific and Clinical Advances Advisory Committee)
- Emily Jackson (London School of Economics)
- Jackson Kirkman Brown (Chair, Association of Reproductive and Clinic Scientists)
- Robin Lovell Badge (Francis Crick Institute)
- Raj Mather (Chair, British Fertility Society)
- Eddie Morris / Adam Balen (Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists)
- Angela Pericleous-Smith (Chair, British Infertility Counselling Association)
- Francesca Steyn (Royal College of Nursing)
- Peter Thompson (Chief Executive, HFEA)
Read past Legislative Reform Advisory Group’s meeting minutes and papers.
Licence Committee and Executive Licensing Panel
These bodies make decisions about whether fertility clinics and human embryo research centres can have a licence, how long for, and on what terms.
Routine decisions are taken by the Executive Licensing Panel, which is made up of three of our staff members. More complex matters, or licence applications which raise new or controversial issues, are referred to the Licence Committee which is made up of Authority members. It also considers all research applications.
All fertility clinics have a right to make representations against certain licensing decisions. If the decision they disagree with was made by the Licence Committee, we put together a separate Licence Committee made up of external members. Sometimes these hearings are held in public.
Details of all Licence Committee and Executive Licencing Panel decisions can be found on the relevant Clinics profile on our Choose a Fertility Clinic Service.
Register Research Panel
Medical and scientific researchers can use information we hold on our secure fertility treatment database (the Register) to study trends and investigate theories, for example to explore how fertility treatment could be made safer or more effective.
To access Register information, researchers must apply to us. The Register Research Panel decides whether to grant or refuse these requests and can put conditions on how the information is used.
In most cases, the data researchers are allowed to access is anonymised. But sometimes they need access to identifying information to conduct their research. The panel considers applications very carefully, drawing upon expertise in the research sector, and only allows access to identifying information as a last resort. When identifying information is shared, it is always information that patients have consented to share for research purposes.
This committee meets up to six times a year to make decisions and recommendations to the board on matters such as business strategy, objective setting and organisational development.
Scientific and Clinical Advances Advisory Committee (SCAAC)
The fertility sector is forever changing and there are always new techniques, treatments and research on the horizon. Our Scientific and Clinical Advances Advisory Committee makes sure we’re on top of these and how they affect our work.
Read past SCAAC meeting minutes and papers.
Want to know more about how we make sure we know about these things? Read about the Horizon Scanning Panel above.
Horizon Scanning meeting
The purpose of the HFEA’s Horizon Scanning Meeting is to bring together international experts and regulatory bodies to discuss the latest issues and breakthroughs in fertility treatment and human embryo research to make sure we know about them so that they can be considered in more detail by our other committees such as the Scientific and Clinical Advances Advisory Committee. Although these breakthroughs are often a long way from being offered in clinics, knowing about them early gives us time to consider their legal, ethical and scientific implications. We are then prepared to make a future decision on whether they can be licensed and have guidance in place to ensure they are carried out safely and appropriately. We can also make sure the public has access to reliable information about the new techniques on our website.
Statutory Approvals Committee (SAC)
This committee decides what conditions can be tested for using a type of embryo screening called Pre-implantation genetic testing for monogenic disorders (PGT-M) and considers applications for mitochondrial donation treatment and Human Leucocyte Antigen (HLA) tissue typing.
It also issues ‘special directions’, which are rules we can issue to clinics to govern how they import or export sperm, eggs, or embryos or use a new fertility treatment or technique.
Review date: 2 March 2025