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UK's HFEA updates single embryo transfer fee proposal

16 August 2010
Appeared in BioNews 571

The UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has updated its position on the way clinics should be charged for performing IVF with a single embryo transfer (SET).

In May this year, the HFEA - the independent regulator for IVF treatment and embryo research - announced that as of 1 October, clinics would pay a fee of £104.50 for a patient's initial treatment cycle using SET. In the event that the first cycle was unsuccessful, each subsequent frozen embryo transfer would not be charged. Now, however, the HFEA has announced that the proposed change will not occur in October, stating that the 'Department of Health have not yet indicated their approval of the proposal'.

At the moment, clinics have to pay the HFEA £104.50 for each IVF cycle they carry out. Because many clinics pass this fee onto patients, the HFEA says that this can influence patients to have multiple embryos transferred in a single cycle to cut costs. This, in turn, can increase the risk of multiple pregnancy.

Professor Lisa Jardine, the Chair of the HFEA said in May that: 'We want to send a positive message to patients and clinics that we are doing everything in our power to promote low risk single embryo transfer fertility treatment'.

Many practitioners welcomed the proposed alteration to the fee structure. Dr Kamal Ahuja, Scientific and Managing Director at the London Women's Clinic said: 'I would welcome the latest initiative from the HFEA to stimulate the acceptance of elective single embryo transfer (eSET) by patients and practitioners. Practitioners like us would need to deploy this small but useful HFEA gesture to improve the uptake of eSET in UK licensed centres'.

He added: 'Patients would see this as a fair demonstration of the regulator's faith in the policies it champions'.

The HFEA states that it remains 'committed to removing obstacles that discourage patients from choosing single embryo transfer' and a statement on the authority's website says that it will ensure that patients and clinics are kept up to date on the proposal.

18 April 2011 - by Dr Sophie Pryor 
The authors of a new Canadian study have recommended a mandatory policy of single embryo transfer in an aim to reduce health complications arising from multiple births....
11 October 2010 - by Ben Jones 
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is considering tightening its guidelines on embryo implantation with the possibility that, in future, only single embryo transfers (SET) may be recommended....
17 May 2010 - by Dr Gabrielle Samuel 
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) announced last week that it will change the way it charges clinics for IVF....
22 February 2010 - by Alison Cranage 
The percentage of IVF cycles using elective single embryo transfer has increased since 2007, according to a report released last week....
1 February 2010 - by Rose Palmer 
The UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has set a 20 per cent maximum multiple birth rate for fertility clinics. Last year's maximum rate - the first since the HFEA's multiple births policy was introduced - was 24 percent. The new rate will become effective from 6 April 2010....
9 July 2009 - by Ailsa Stevens 
This week the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority's (HFEA's) published its eagerly awaited 8th Code of Practice. Coming into force on 1st October 2009, the new Code of Practice has been published in order to reflect and develop upon the new changes at law introduced by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) Bill 2008....
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