Page URL: https://www.bionews.org.uk/page_142617

Private IVF clinics 'exploiting' older patients, says HFEA chair

29 April 2019
Appeared in BioNews 996

Sally Cheshire, chair of the UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), has warned that private IVF clinics are misleading older patients about success rates and overcharging for their services. 

Between 2004 and 2017, the success rate for births after IVF for women aged 44 or older was just one percent. However, clinics are presenting 'very selective' information on success rates to patients while reportedly charging up to £20,000 per cycle, Cheshire told the Telegraph.

'Some of the private sector clinics use very selective success rates in their sales tactics which we are also trying to stop. Because they need to be honest about their results by age group, by category of patient – all of which is available on [the HFEA] website,' said Cheshire. 

The number of women in their 40s seeking to have a child through IVF has doubled since 2004, reaching 10,835 women in 2017. However, only 75 women a year aged 42-43 will have a baby through IVF, using her own eggs. Over the age of 44, the figure is less than two. The success rate is boosted if the woman uses eggs frozen from when she was younger. 

'I would like our clinics to be honest about the success rates,' said Cheshire. 

Cheshire, who is 50, recalled being personally approached by IVF providers at the Fertility Show in 2018. 'I said, "Do you realise I am the chair of the HFEA? You really shouldn't be offering this."' 

She also called for the HFEA to be given powers to intervene where IVF clinics are overcharging patients. Add-on treatments – many of which are not proven to boost pregnancy rates and are potentially dangerous - are behind the inflation of IVF costs, Cheshire said. Three-quarters of patients take up an add-on option. 

'We have no legal powers to regulate prices. But a cycle shouldn't cost more than £5000, £3000 to £4000 [for the basic cycle] plus an extra £1000 maybe for an extra frozen embryo transfer,' said Cheshire. 

'We need to be doing the right thing by our patients – making sure that the price is not exploitative; that the information is accurate and that patients are not being offered add-on treatments that are unproven without the facts.'

SOURCES & REFERENCES
IVF clinics must end the exploitation of hope
The Telegraph |  22 April 2019
Older women being exploited by IVF clinics - when just two a year will achieve success after the age of 44
The Telegraph |  21 April 2019
Older women exploited by IVF clinics, says fertility watchdog
BBC News |  22 April 2019
RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE
13 May 2019 - by Jakki Magowan 
Women without male partners are increasingly seeking fertility treatment according to a new report by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority...
1 April 2019 - by Eleanor Harrison 
For the last few months I have been involved with Siobhain's parliamentary push to protect the welfare of women in IVF law...
4 February 2019 - by Dr Kamal Ahuja and Professor Nick Macklon 
Recently, the HFEA released a statement on adjunct treatments in IVF. The regulator had provided clear notice of its publication and both its stated intentions and content were as anticipated...
21 January 2019 - by Rikita Patel 
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has published a final consensus statement advising that IVF clinics should not charge patients for add-on treatments that are not proven effective by clinical trials...
HAVE YOUR SAY
Log in to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions


Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.