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BPAS Fertility’s response to the HFEA National Patient Survey

Marta Jansa Perez, PhD, Director of Embryology at BPAS Fertility

“We welcome the release of the HFEA National Patient Survey, which provides a vital insight into the experiences of fertility patients across the UK. Whilst we are pleased to see the majority of patients are satisfied with their overall care, the report also gives a clear indication of the need to monitor the promotion of unnecessary add-ons, and the need for better support for patients at every step of their journey.

“The HFEA works to reduce the use of add-ons in fertility treatment because most remain unproven at increasing the chance of having a live birth. As an evidence-based service, at BPAS Fertility we only offer treatments that have a proven value to optimise the chances of success, and we do not encourage our patients to undergo unproven and costly “add-ons.”

“The HFEA report shows that there has been an overall decline in the use of add-ons since 2018. However, three-fifths of patients (65%) responding to the HFEA survey said they had used an add-on during treatment. Black, Asian, Mixed or Other ethnicity patients were more likely than White patients (41% vs. 24%) to have used ‘red’ add-ons. Amongst patients who had used a treatment add-on, less than half (46%) felt that the cost was clear, or that the clinic explained how effective the add-on was likely to be at increasing the chances of having a baby or the evidence supporting its use (46%). Worryingly, just a third (33%) said that the clinic had explained the potential risk/s of the add-on.

“For many patients seeking fertility care, GPs will be the first point of contact. It is disappointing to see that fertility patient’s satisfaction with their GP experience has decreased since 2018. More needs to be done to ensure GPs are equipped to support all patients effectively, however we must of course acknowledge the pressure GPs have been under due to COVID-19. Delays to treatment and long waiting times can cause significant distress to patients, and access to and funding of fertility services must be given appropriate priority as we move out of the pandemic.

“Navigating fertility care can be a very complex and stressful experience for patients. At BPAS Fertility, we will continue to advocate to improve care for all whether they are seeking treatment from the NHS or the private sector, alongside providing high-quality, compassionate, patient-centred fertility care to our patients on a not-for-profit basis.”

ENDS

For further information, please contact Katherine O’Brien, BPAS Associate Director of Campaigns and Communications, on katherine.o’brien@bpas.org or 07881 265276.

About BPAS

BPAS is a charity that sees over 100,000 women a year for reproductive healthcare services including pregnancy counselling, abortion care, miscarriage management and contraception at clinics across Great Britain. It supports and advocates for reproductive choice. BPAS also runs the Centre for Reproductive Research and Communication, which seeks to develop and deliver a research agenda that furthers women’s access to evidence-based reproductive healthcare, driven by an understanding of women’s perspectives and needs. You can find out more here: https://www.bpas.org/get-involved/centre-for-reproductive-research-communication/

In 2021, BPAS launched BPAS Fertility, England’s first not-for-profit fertility service, to provide ethical, evidence-based, person-centred care that supports patients. We provide a safe, high-quality, and accessible service, without profiteering from patients. Our service gives those ineligible for NHS funding an affordable option to access the care they need.