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Our committees and panels

Our committees and panels 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.

Appeals Committee

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.

Appointments Committee

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

Horizon Scanning Panel

This panel of international experts makes sure we know about all the latest breakthroughs in fertility treatment and human embryo research.

Panel members flag up new developments throughout the year to our policy team, who also gather information by attending conferences and scanning journals. The panel then meet once a year to discuss the issues and prioritise which ones need to be considered in more detail by 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.

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.

Remuneration Committee

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.

Statutory Approvals Committee (SAC)

This committee decides what conditions can be tested for using a type of embryo screening called pre implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD)

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.

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Review date: 19 September 2019