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New law comes into force giving greater flexibility for family planning

The HFEA has produced guidance and advice to support clinics implement the new law

Fertility patients now have more time to make important decisions about their future following a change to the law that enables all patients to store their eggs, sperm and embryos for up to 55 years, providing they reconsent every 10 years.

From 1 July, all patients can store their eggs, sperm and embryos for their own treatment for up to 55 years, providing they reconsent every 10 years; donors can store their eggs or sperm for use up to 55 years and do not need to renew their consent; and providing patients consent to their sperm, eggs or embryos being used in the event of their death, they can remain in storage for up to 10 years from the date they pass away.

Clinics must:

    • Audit all their stored material to accurately assess the consent status of any stored gametes or embryos.
    • Alongside the relevant information, offer patients counselling every time they are approached about giving or renewing consent.
    • Document the conversation in the patient or donor’s medical notes.
    • Contact patients who have gametes or embryos in storage where there is no effective consent to storage in place or where consent to storage is due to expire within the Transitional Period to renew their consent. This must happen before 30 June 2023.
    • Use the new and revised consent forms that reflect these legal changes available on the HFEA website and ensure patients have these consents in place before 30 June 2024.

 

Rachel Cutting, the HFEA’s Director for Compliance & Information, said:

“Clinics have until 30 June 2023 to contact patients who have eggs, sperm or embryos in storage that are due to expire within the next two years. Consents using the updated or new forms must be in place for patients wishing to store for a further ten years by June 2024.

“Additionally, clinics need to discuss and then document, a patient’s wishes around posthumous treatment in the event they pass away. We understand that these conversations can be incredibly difficult, but they are an essential part of the consent process and ensure that their wishes can be respected.”

 

The timetable set by the new law has been incredibly challenging. In this short time, the HFEA has updated and produced new consent forms and developed clear guidance and other information.

To support healthcare professionals understand and implement changes to storage regulations, the HFEA will be producing information videos which can be used for training purposes in clinics over the summer and has produced guidance, flow charts and other information which is available on the HFEA’s website: New storage laws | HFEA.