This weekend is the deadline for submissions to the Department of Health about the future of the functions of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA). This sounds dull and dry, far removed from the concerns of infertile couples and single women struggling to conceive or parents with their donor conceived young children. Don’t you believe it. As Walter says in the response agreed by the Trustees and Steering Group of DC Network –
Our serious and strong objection to the break-up of the HFEA’s functions is the risk that the interests of donor conception will be lost amid the huge range of the CQC’s (Care Quality Commission) responsibilities; that information that should be compiled on the Register will be less accurate as a result of the downgrading and lack of senior management focus; that those requesting information from the Register might be given inaccurate information, or less information than they would or could be entitled to; and that the disclosure of information would be handled poorly.
It is vital for the future of our children and their potential to access information on the Register that all the functions of the HFEA should stay together and that a specialist board should oversee the vital Three Rs, Regulation, Research and the Register. The HFEA has already made considerable savings by moving to share premises with the CQC. Sharing back-office functions is appropriate. Handing over the keeping of our children’s information to a lumbering beast that cannot handle it’s current responsibilities and doesn’t want this additional job, is not.
The HFEA as it stands is far from perfect. DCN would like to see the composition of the board shift from a clinical and scientifically dominated focus to one that includes more of those with knowledge about child and family well-being. DCN would also like to see board members more questioning and active at public meetings, instead of rubber stamping decisions made by the executive. BUT, it is the devil we know and there are some signs that some people understand the need to think about donor conception as the creation of a family rather than just another treatment option.
The full response by the Trustees and Steering Group (representing the different family and donation types) can be linked to here http://www.dcnetwork.org/news/16122011-1243/new-item-2