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12 Sep, 2023

HFEA ‘State of the Fertility Sector’ report

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority’s (HFEA) State of the Fertility Sector 2022/23 report reveals that out of the almost 100,000 treatment and storage cycles which took place, more than 99% were conducted without any incidents occurring.

The annual report summarises HFEA compliance work for 2022-23 as well as information recorded in incident reports, on its Register of fertility treatments and through patient feedback mechanisms.

The State of the Fertility Sector 2022-2023 report, which provides an overview of the sector-wide compliance, reporting on inspection, incidents, complaints, and non-compliances, found that:

  • About 100,000 treatment and storage cycles were conducted with more than 99% taking place without any incident.
  • The number of inspections has decreased compared to previous years from 105 in 2021/22 to 85 in 2022/23. This is because more inspections took place in 2021/22, as inspections were deferred from 2020/21 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The HFEA has worked with clinics to ensure they do everything possible to prevent and manage OHSS. In 2022/23, there were 64 cases of severe and critical OHSS reported by UK clinics, occurring in less than 0.1% of cycles.
  • There were 517 incidents and 89 near misses reported to the HFEA in 2022/23. In 2022/23, most incidents were Grade C (291), followed by Grade B incidents (226 incidents). Both Grade B and C incidents in 2022/23 decreased, consistent from previous years. There were no Grade A incidents from 2020/21 to 2022/23.
  • The number of patient complaints decreased from 76 in 2021/22 to 59 in 2022/23.
  • Of the 107 licensed treatment clinics, 66 (62%) were privately owned, an increase from 62 in 2021/22. It should be noted that most HFEA licensed clinics, whether private or NHS, treat both NHS and self-funded patients.

Peter Thompson, Chief Executive of the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (HFEA), said: “Fertility treatment within UK licenced clinics has yet again proven to be safe. Patients and can continue to be reassured that the risk of an incident in their care is very low, with more than 99% of treatment and storage cycles carried out without incident.

"Following each clinic inspection, a report identifying areas of good practice and those which require improvement is published on the HFEA website. We monitor incidents in clinics to make sure that everything is done to understand what went wrong and, crucially, to take steps to ensure it does not happen again. We also share learning and notify other clinics of potential issues.”

The HFEA is the independent regulator of fertility treatment and human embryo research in the UK. It aims to ensure that everyone receives high quality care in UK fertility clinics by licensing, monitoring, and inspecting clinics - and taking enforcement action where necessary - and providing free, clear and impartial information about fertility treatment, clinics, and egg, sperm and embryo donation.

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