HFEA the Envy of the World ??? Most certainly not !!!
How many times over the years have we watched members of the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (HFEA) pat themselves on the back as they deliver yet again the mantra that the rest of humanity is on its knees in deference to their cutting-edge structures, management protocols and extraordinary expertise. How often have we heard HFEA members describe their regulatory body as ‘simply the envy of the world’.
CORE has always ridiculed this tendency towards self-congratulation, conscious as we are of the pitfalls of excessive bureaucracy and reliance on overly complicated database returns rather than on-site independent scrutiny.
Anybody who has ever asked for exact embryo counts over the years since the HFEA was set up in 1991, knows how impossible it is to construct with any accuracy what has really happened to the unfortunate human beings created in the petri dish.
With current news of embryo mix-ups, wrong sperm used to fertilise eggs, a woman aborting an embryo because it was not hers and the real parents rueing the loss of their last chance child, black babies born to white parents, and promises of some further 200 mishaps to be unravelled in the future, it is surely time to question the performance of the HFEA, and ask whether they are actually fit to practice.
The main role of the HFEA is to regulate every detail involved in the creation of human embryos to ensure that respect due to early human life is always upheld, as intended by the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Act. This was and is their main job; not lobbying for animal-human hybrids, or promoting forms of embryonic stem cell research, or attempting to write or influence Government policy in such fields.
Since its inception in 1991 the HFEA has expanded its staff and offices and budget at a phenomenal rate. In 1993 we note that there were 15 full-time and 2 part-time staff members in place to monitor some 112 centres. By 2007 the staff had increased to 90,and running costs had escalated from £810,985 to £7,943,958, even though the centres themselves only increased by 29.
Despite the proliferating staff, huge budget, prestigious offices and grandiose attitudes, the bottom-line is that the HFEA most certainly does not elicit the envy of the world.
It has shown itself incapable even of proper inspection and control of the clinics it is supposed to regulate, the very purpose for which it was created in the first place.
Time for humility and a complete overhaul.