This policy document is part of a response submitted by the Progress Educational Trust (PET) to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority's Consultation on its 8th Code of Practice and Revised Consent Forms.
In light of the current debate and literature about preimplantation genetic screening (PGS), do you think new guidance in the Code of Practice strikes the right balance between clinical freedom and uncertainties about whether PGS leads to better overall pregnancy rates?
Further research is necessary in the fertility sector, if success rates for assisted reproduction are to improve, so that more patients can be helped to achieve a successful pregnancy. However, while it is important not to foreclose future developments in the use of PGS, due consideration should also be given to the interests of patients. Patients may have an imperfect understanding of the treatment they are being offered, and may be desperate for a successful outcome.
In 9.1 of the HFEA's proposed new Code of Practice, the reference to 'the British Fertility Society's policy and practice guidelines on PGS' should be removed. These policy and practice guidelines have already been superseded, and if any equivalent reference were to be added to the Code of Practice in their place, then these too would likely be superseded before long. By removing this specific reference and refraining from adding another in its place, the HFEA would more clearly make it incumbent upon providers of fertility services to 'monitor the latest literature and professional guidance' in this area.
In 13.9 (ii) of the HFEA's proposed new Code of Practice, the word 'experimental' to describe PGS is potentially misleading - it may result in the patient forming an impression that they are participating in a formal scientific experiment rather than undergoing treatment, and it fails to convey adequately the fact that the efficacy of this technique is unproven. For this reason, we suggest that the word 'experimental' is replaced with 'unproven'. This suggested change of wording is not intended to disparage the technique, but rather to help ensure that an accurate impression of its biomedical standing is conveyed to the patient.