I’m delighted that the HFEA Chair Professor Lisa Jardine has taken to the online pages of BioNews to clarify that the decision to remove the possible sanctions for clinics which breach the multiple births target doesn’t mean a change of heart on the policy itself.
There appeared to be a complete misunderstanding of what was actually going on in much of the coverage at the time as it was widely reported that clinics would no longer be expected to continue to reduce multiple births – which isn’t the case at all. As Lisa Jardine explains, the reasoning behind the change came after two years of legal wranglings with just two fertility clinics who argued against the licence condition that no more than 10% of their births should be multiples. It was felt that it would be wrong to continue to spend large sums of money fighting the challenge in the courts, and that it was also unfair to all the other clinics that just two of them should be treated differently.
In fact, the One at a Time policy has been very successful, with an overall reduction in the multiple birth rate after fertility treatment down from 24% to 16%. Successful clinics are heading towards the 10% rate now set as a target by the HFEA.
It’s fertility patients who can help push things in the right direction, by asking clinics about their multiple rate or checking this on the HFEA website – and by continuing to remember that a clinic with a high multiple rate should set alarm bells ringing. A really good fertility clinic will have a good success rate and a low multiple pregnancy rate, while a clinic with a high multiple rate is not focused on the future health of patients and their children.
You can read what Professor Lisa Jardine had to say here