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Experts criticise decision to shut down HFEA

18 October 2010
Appeared in BioNews 580


Former members of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) spoke in the House of Lords against proposals to axe the UK's fertility watchdog on Wednesday. Baroness Ruth Deech, chair of the HFEA from 1994 to 2002, said 'splitting up the functions between five other committees' could endanger 'the world-wide reputation of this model of regulation'.

Former HFEA member, Lord Harries of Pentregarth, warned the risk of 'unfortunate incidents' may increase given the 'special ethical status of the early embryo'. He did not specify what these 'incidents' could entail. 

Baroness Deech had asked health minister Earl Howe about his plans for the future regulation of human fertilisation and embryology. Earl Howe said the functions of the HFEA would be adequately covered by existing governmental organisations: '20 years ago it may have made sense to look at a single body for carrying out the functions undertaken by the HFEA'.

'Times have moved on and we think that there is a more logical way to parcel out those functions which does not dilute in the slightest the efficacy or the efficiency of the regulatory action', he said. The Government has proposed to reform nearly 200 arm's-length bodies, including the HFEA, in what has been dubbed the 'bonfire of the quangos'. The reforms aim to save money and streamline public services.

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The Telegraph |  14 October 2010
19 December 2011 - by Sandy Starr 
The Public Bodies Bill - which empowers the UK Government to transfer the functions of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), the country's regulator of fertility treatment and embryo research - has received Royal Assent and has become the Public Bodies Act. This Act represents the realisation in statute of the Coalition Government's longstanding plans for a 'bonfire of the quangos'...
16 May 2011 - by Julianna Photopoulos 
The UK's House of Lords has voted for the first time on an amendment that, if passed, would have impeded the Government's power to abolish its fertility regulator. The amendment to the Public Bodies Bill, which said the cost-effectiveness of the Conservative-Lib Dem Government's abolition plans must be assessed first, was narrowly defeated...
1 April 2011 - by Sandy Starr 
The proposed abolition of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) was debated yet again in the UK House of Lords on 28 March. Labour peer Baroness Glenys Thornton proposed and withdrew the same amendment to save the HFEA from abolition that she had previously proposed and withdrawn on 9 March....
7 February 2011 - by Julianna Photopoulos 
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) was once again the topic of a debate in the House of Lords on 1 February 2011. Following the proposed abolition of the HFEA and the Human Tissue Authority (HTA), Baroness Glenys Thornton asked how the UK government will maintain public confidence and patient safety....
24 January 2011 - by Julianna Photopoulos 
The UK's fertility watchdog, the Human Fertility and Embryology Authority (HFEA), has launched a public consultation on how sperm and egg donation should be regulated....
4 October 2010 - by John Parsons and Michael Savvas 
The Government is considering dismembering the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) and dividing its responsibilities between the Care Quality Commission, a proposed new research regulator and possibly an expanded Health and Social Care Information Centre [1]. We believe that, although the HFEA is not perfect, such changes would be a retrograde step and should be resisted...
24 September 2010 - by Dr Vivienne Raper 
The UK's fertility regulator is on a Government 'hit list' of quangos facing abolition, according to a letter leaked this week. The letter, dated 26 August, supposedly from Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude to other ministers lists the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) among 177 quangos due to be axed...
6 September 2010 - by Josephine Quintavalle 
The inaugural meeting of CORE in 1994 was entitled, 'Human Reproduction - Who Decides?' and the key speech was by an ex-HFEA (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority) committee member, Professor Robert Snowden. Focus was specifically on assisted reproduction and the controversial issue of whether or not human embryos should...
23 August 2010 - by Professor Eric Blyth, Dr Marilyn Crawshaw, Dr Lucy Frith, Dr Caroline Jones and Dr Jennifer Speirs 
The UK government's review of Arm's Length Bodies (ALB) in the National Health Service has indicated that the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has had its day as a free-standing regulatory body...
9 August 2010 - by Baroness Ruth Deech 
Of course we are all against unnecessary regulation: and one of the areas of policy put forward by the new coalition government which has seemed to attract widespread support, even from those who hold no brief for them, is the abolition of superfluous quangos....
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