Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) - Call for Evidence

Closed 31 Aug 2015

Opened 3 Jul 2015


In recent years, the health and social care system in England has undergone substantial change. The Health and Social Care Act 2012 and the Care Act 2014 have devolved functions and powers away from the Department of Health to local and Arm’s Length Bodies.

The Department has a key stewardship and assurance role in respect of arm’s length bodies within the health and care system. The Department needs to ensure these organisations have appropriate functions and are performing to a high standard.

To perform this stewardship function, the Department is undertaking Triennial Reviews of all of its arm’s length bodies. This includes all Executive Non-Departmental Public Bodies (ENDPBs), Advisory Non-Departmental Public Bodies (ANDPBs), Executive Agencies and Special Health Authorities. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), an Executive NDPB, is subject to review in 2015-2016.

The programme of reviews builds on the approach developed by the Cabinet Office as part of their work on public bodies reform.


Purpose of the Review

As noted above, this review is part of a wider programme the Department of Health has developed as part of its stewardship and assurance function. The review will have two main stages:

  • The first is to provide a robust challenge of the continuing need for the Authority both in terms of the functions it performs, and the way in which these are delivered.
  • If it is agreed that the HFEA should retain its current functions and utilise the same delivery model, the second stage of the review will then consider its performance, capability and governance, as well as considering opportunities for efficiencies.

The Department of Health published a report into a review of all of its arm’s length bodies in 2010.  This report recommended that both the HFEA and the Human Tissue Authority (HTA) should have their functions transferred to the Care Quality Commission and a new research regulator. However, the majority of responses to a consultation on this proposal in 2012 were opposed to such a move and this led to a further review by Justin McCracken in early 2013. This review considered a range of options, including merging the HFEA and HTA, but concluded that they should remain as separate Non-Departmental Public Bodies. This was agreed by the Department of Health and the Cabinet Office. The review also made a number of recommendations about the scope for efficiencies and improvements in the way the HFEA and HTA undertook their functions.

This Triennial Review will take full account of these previous reviews and will not seek to reopen recent decisions. The Triennial Review will also include an assessment of the implementation of the recommendations in Mr McCracken’s review.

This Call for Evidence seeks views from respondents to assist its consideration of both of the above stages. The evidence is being gathered simultaneously for stage one and stage two in the interests of timeliness and value for money only, and is not an expression of pre-judgement as to the outcome of stage one of the review.


The Triennial Review commenced on 25 June 2015 and is expected to conclude by the end of December 2015. The conclusions of the review will be announced in both Houses of Parliament and a copy of the final report will be published on the Department of Health pages on Gov.UK.


Responding to the call for evidence

In order to conduct the review in a transparent manner and ensure findings are rigorous and evidence-based, the review team is seeking the views of a wide range of stakeholders. We are interested in the views of individuals and organisations that engage with the HFEA or have a wider interest in its operations.

The call for evidence is running from 3 July 2015 to 31 August 2015.Responses can be provided by completing the online questionnaire below.

The review team will also accept responses or material in different forms provided it is relevant to the purpose of the review (detailed above) and/or the questions detailed below. The review team is unable to respond to individual cases or consider complaints other than as part of the evidence for the review where it falls within the terms of reference.


Interested stakeholders are also invited to attend a workshop to share their views on this call for evidence. You can book a place (places are limited and allocated on a first-come first-served basis) through the links below.

30 July 2015               14:00 - 16:00 hours             London

13 August 2015               14:00 - 16:00 hours            London




  • Voluntary groups
  • Charities
  • GPs
  • Nurses
  • Clinicians
  • Directors of Public Health
  • Doctors
  • Midwives
  • Healthcare scientists
  • Diagnostic radiographers
  • NHS Commissioning Board
  • Regulatory body
  • Academic/ Professional institution
  • Royal Colleges
  • Members of the public
  • Patients
  • Patients
  • Service users
  • Suppliers
  • Academics
  • Members of the Public


  • Children's health and development
  • Physical health
  • Sexual health
  • Public health
  • Childcare
  • Health and Social Care Act 2012
  • Maternity services
  • Regulation