Select Committee on Science and Technology Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 433 - 439)



  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 helpful.

  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 them?

  Ms McNab: I am sorry, I did not hear.

  Q436  Chairman: If you were going to modernise infertility service provision, what values would underpin that?

  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. Regulation, yes.

  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.

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