Licence fees collected by fertility regulator from clinics could fund 1,000 free treatment cycles
Britain's fertility regulator has run up a surplus of more than £3m from charges imposed on the clinics it licenses, enough to provide 1,000 free cycles of IVF treatment on the NHS.
The unspent funds raised by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) mean hundreds of NHS patients cannot get the treatment they need to help them have a baby.
The authority charges a £75 fee on every IVF treatment, which is paid either by the patient, if they are treated privately, or by the clinic if they are being treated on the NHS. If the charges had been waived for NHS clinics, more patients could have been treated.
The HFEA licenses 132 clinics, which pay an average of £36,000 a year each in charges. These have contributed to a surplus of £3.4m, which is more than half the organisations' annual budget of £6.2m.
The HFEA said it had built up the surplus as a result of "prudent" budgeting. It said it had expected the number of treatment cycles to fall because of the recession and the squeeze on the NHS budget; this would have led to a reduction in the authority's income. Instead, demand for treatment has unexpectedly continued to increase.
In total, three-quarters of the HFEA's budget comes from fees; the rest is provided by a grant from the Department of Health. In October, the HFEA cut its fees by 28 per cent and it now says its surplus will not continue to grow.
Written & sourced by Independant