Skip to main content

Making a complaint about a fertility clinic

Going through fertility treatment is hard enough – the last thing you need is added stress. If you’re not happy about something your fertility clinic has done (or not done), it’s your right to complain to them. We’re here to help if you’re not happy with the way they’ve handled your complaint.

Step 1: Make your complaint directly to the clinic

If you’re not happy with the service or care at your clinic, you should first make a complaint to them.

We advise that you:

  • complain as soon as you can – if you speak to the people involved first, they may be able to sort out your problem quickly.
  • think about what you want to say in advance – if you can, talk it through with someone such as a family member or friend, or ask them to read what you've written before you send it
  • be clear about what happened, who was involved, when, where and why you weren’t happy
  • try to make your explanations as short and clear as possible – focus on the main issues and leave out extra details
  • be clear about what you would like them to do to put things right – this could be an apology or changing the way they do things to prevent the same mistake happening again
  • if you complain in writing, keep a copy of everything you send and make a note of when you sent it.

Step 2: if you are still not happy

If you’ve been through the clinic’s complaint’s process and you’re still not happy, you can contact us to see if we can help. Normally, this should be within six months of you becoming aware of the problem. If we think there is more the clinic can do to resolve your complaint, we will send it back to the clinic for a further review.

You should know that by law we’re only able to deal with certain complaints. We cannot review specific decisions about your clinical care, nor can we help you obtain a refund or compensation.

Even if we might not be able to take forward a complaint on your behalf, we will use your feedback to help shape our inspection process. This helps protect others from going through a similar experience. Email us at enquiriesteam@hfea.gov.uk to see if we can look into it for you.

You can also view our complaints policy to find out more.

If we’re able to consider your complaint, you will need to put your complaint in writing and send it to us by email at enquiriesteam@hfea.gov.uk.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we are not able to receive complaints by post at this time.

Additional resources

We understand making a complaint about your care may be daunting. We have provided links to additional resources to organisation who might be able to provide you with further advice and support.

  • The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published guidance for fertility clinics to help them understand and comply with their obligations under consumer law. The CMA has also published a guide and a short video for fertility patients to help them understand their consumer law rights when purchasing fertility treatment.
  • The CMA will shortly be undertaking a compliance review to see if clinics are complying with consumer law. It wants to hear from you if you have experience of the types of issues covered in its patient guide and video when buying and having fertility treatment in the UK, for example, whether:
    • you believe you were misled about the price of your IVF treatment
    • you were faced with unexpected additional costs as treatment progressed
    • you think a clinic’s success rates were misrepresented to you; or
    • you think that false or misleading claims were made about the success or effectiveness of treatments, such as egg freezing and add-on treatments.
  • If you would like to find out more about how consumer law relates to fertility clinics have a look at the CMA’s patient guide and video Self-funded IVF: consumer law guidance - GOV.UK
  • The information you provide to the CMA may be used to provide intelligence that helps inform their compliance review. It may also be used to help them consider or take enforcement action against IVF fertility clinics, or other businesses active in the fertility sector, should that be appropriate.
  • If you wish to share your experiences with them, please do so at the following email: ConsumerLawIVFTeam@cma.gov.uk. Before you share any information with the CMA, please consider the information on their website, using the link above, about how your information may be used. You should be aware that the CMA is unable to offer individual advice or assistance, but their patient guide does signpost you to organisations AvMA – Action Against Medical Accidents, which is an organisation who can give you free and impartial advice about the complaint process, both NHS and private.

ISCAS – Independent Sector Complaints Adjudication Service (cedr.com) - ISCAS considers complaints for privately funded care. You will need to check your clinic is subscribed to this service.

Making a complaint | Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) – if you are complaining about care provided by the NHS and you are not happy to the response you might be able to refer your complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman for a further review.

Review date: 9 August 2024