Examination of Witnesses (Questions 433
WEDNESDAY 21 JULY 2004
Q433 Chairman: Welcome, Angela McNab
and your team. I do not know how you want to coordinate the answers.
Thank you for coming to help us in this important inquiry. As
you know we are taking lots of evidence and making trips to the
Vatican and Sweden to see that we get a fair hearing from all
sides. Would you like to say something to begin with, to say how
you view this Committee's inquiry? Is it welcome or is it just
a pain in the butt?
Ms McNab: Absolutely not. May
I first of all say thank you very much indeed for asking us here
today. We are very pleased to be able to support the Committee's
work. As you will know, we have been very interested, very keen
to see a review of the Act. We are very pleased to see that government
has committed itself to reviewing the Act. We think this Committee
can do an incredibly valuable job of advising government about
those areas where there will be particular potential for revisiting
the initial Act. We hope that while we are here today we will
be able to talk to you about some of the changes, the quite massive
changes, that we have put in place, particularly over the last
two or three years. We hope we will be able to demonstrate to
you that not only have we largely done a good job since 1990 but
that we are now into a system of continuous improvement. We have
made a lot of improvements but we accept that there is always
room for us to be doing more and we have more planned. It may
help you if I introduce the team. Would that be a useful start?
Q434 Chairman: Yes, that would be
Ms McNab: I am aware that there
is a bit of a crowd of us. To my left is Charles Lister who heads
up our policy team. He will be answering questions specifically
about policy reviews that we do and the processes that we use
for policy review. To my far right we have Dr Chris O'Toole who
heads up the regulation of research, so any of the scientific
or research issues I am going to particularly want to pass to
her. To my immediate right is Trish Davies who is the director
of regulation and therefore has the responsibility for all the
regulation teams, both those areas looking at the treatment centres
and also those areas looking at the regulation of research. I
am the Chief Executive. I hope that is helpful.
Q435 Chairman: Thank you very much.
Let's start off with a general question, shall we? The principles
which are involved in the modern provision of infertility services,
what advice would you give us as to what values are underpinning
Ms McNab: I am sorry, I did not
Q436 Chairman: If you were going
to modernise infertility service provision, what values would
Ms McNab: I am still unclear about
what it is you are asking me.
Q437 Chairman: Let me be specific:
What different kind of service would you operate?
Ms McNab: In terms of the regulation
of infertility services or the provision?
Q438 Chairman: Whatever you want.
Ms McNab: I am sorry, I was not
clear whether you were asking me to talk about the provision of
treatment services or the regulation of services.
Q439 Chairman: I would like you just
generally to say something about both.
Ms McNab: Okay. I do not think
I can talk about the public funding issues regarding the provision
of treatment for infertility services. I clearly would want to
ensure that patient safety is absolutely at the heart of all the
treatment services provided, whether they are in the private sector
or whether they are in the public sector. I do not see any reason
why patients should not have the right to a consistency of the
quality of care in both of those sectors. That is absolutely paramount
and that is the fundamental value upon which our own regulation
of services is based. I think there should be absolute patient
confidentiality but at the same time I do think we should be able
to share information about the quality of services and about the
standards which people can expect. I also think that one of the
key principles should be that patients are well informed. That
is something we have particularly tried to move on with in the
last couple of years, in terms of our own change programme. I
believe we have done a great deal to make sure patients have a
better understanding of the whole pathway of infertility services.