Homerton Fertility Clinic has its suspension extended by regulator

General view of Homerton Fertility Centre (Jordan Pettitt/PA Wire)
General view of Homerton Fertility Centre (Jordan Pettitt/PA Wire)

A controversial fertility clinic has had the suspension of it licence extended while it is investigated over the loss of some embryos.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) initially suspended the Homerton Fertility Clinic’s licence in March and its licence committee met on Thursday to consider the issue again.

HFEA chief executive Peter Thompson said: “The Committee decided that the Homerton Fertility Clinic’s licence should remain suspended until August, while investigations continue.“The clinic remains under enhanced regulatory oversight and the HFEA will not lift the suspension of the clinic’s licence until we are certain that patients can be treated safely.“Serious incidents in fertility clinics in the UK are rare, but each one is distressing for those patients involved, which is why we take them very seriously. The HFEA investigates what clinics do in response to incidents to make sure that everything is done to understand what went wrong and, crucially, to take steps to ensure it does not happen again.“The UK model of fertility clinic regulation is internationally regarded. By having special laws, setting best practice through our Code of Practice, and sharing learning on incidents the HFEA promotes safe practice to minimise the risk of incidents.”

The initial suspension came after what the regulator described as "significantconcerns" over "serious untoward incidents” including reports a higher than usual amount of frozen embryos did not survive being thawed.

One patient, named only as Sarah, told the BBC she had been informed two of her embryos had not survived being thawed. She told BBC News it was “upsetting” that patients had been “left in the dark”.

The clinic is still working with patients who have already started their IVF treatment but others had been stopped from beginning treatment.

It said all patients have received letters and been offered free counselling.