The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has just published a comprehensive guide of consumer law rights for UK fertility patients entitled, “Fertility treatment: A guide to your consumer rights.”
Patients should feel confident and informed about their rights, which can be difficult to parse at such an emotional time. IVF, IUI, and other fertility treatments are often bound up with strong emotions and worry about costs. The guide is designed to help patients clearly understand their rights as they progress through each stage of fertility treatment.
Louise Strong, consumer director at the CMA, said “Buying fertility treatment is a big decision. It can be complicated, stressful and very expensive, with no guarantee of success. All patients deserve to have the information they need to make the right choices for them and be treated fairly. Our guidance should help clinics understand their legal obligations. In six months, we will be reviewing compliance in the sector and we will be ready to take enforcement action if businesses are breaking the law.”
The CMA created the guide in collaboration with the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) and the HFEA (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Association) over the course of the past two years. In addition to the new guide, they’ve released a short video to introduce the information, found here
Inside the guide, patients can learn about their consumer rights and fertility clinics’ obligations. These include:
- Clinics need to provide patients with all relevant information when they request it so that they can make informed decisions about which specific fertility treatments and options to purchase.
- All advertisements and information should be “clear and truthful,” and not include any misleading information.
- Clinics must not engage in unfair business practices.
- All contracts need to be fair and transparent.
- Clinics must not advertise misleadingly low prices.
In addition to these new guidelines, clinics are subject to the HFEA’s code of practice for clinics
Doctors and clinic management are supportive of the new guidelines, which make clear the obligations they have to their patients
According to Dr James Nicopoullos at the Lister Fertility Clinic in Chelsea, “Lister Fertility Clinic fully supports this new guidance for the IVF sector. With the majority of patients in the UK self-funding their fertility treatment, it is an essential progression in helping ensure that patients are treated fairly.”
Dr Nicopoullos stresses the importance of patients having all of the information available
“It is key that, as clinics, we allow patients access to any information they need to make an informed decision about their treatment and make every effort to minimise any related confusion or uncertainty in an already potentially stressful time. We were delighted to work with the HFEA during the preparation of this guidance and look forward to continuing to support them and the CMA in working to further understand patients’ experiences and improve transparency in the fertility sector as a whole.”
If you are considering private fertility treatment in the UK, do make sure you read through the new CMA guidelines to ensure you know your rights. Do you have any questions about consumer rights and fertility? Leave them in the comment section and we will ensure these are forwarded to both the CMA and HFEA to respond to.