Sally Cheshire, chairman of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), told The Daily Telegraph some private clinics were guilty of building up patients’ hopes by using “very selective success rates in their sales tactics”.
“We now see things like ‘guaranteed baby or your money back’. What the clinics shouldn’t be doing is trading on that hope. That hope and vulnerability.”
HFEA figures show the number of women in their forties trying IVF doubled to 10,835 between 2004 and 2017 and Mrs Cheshire urged clinics to be “honest and transparent” about their chances of success.
“They need to be honest about their results by age group, by category of patient – all of which is available on our website,” she said.
NHS guidelines recommend that women under 40 should be offered three full cycles of IVF, while those between 40 and 42 should be offered one full cycle. However, eligibility criteria varies in different areas of the country.
IVF is not usually recommended for women over the age of 42 because of low success rates.
But Mrs Cheshire, 50, told the newspaper she had been offered IVF treatments by clinic staff who were not aware of her role when she visited a fertility show in Manchester.
Mrs Cheshire also called for the watchdog to be given powers to regulate prices, saying that some private centres were charging up to £20,000 for cycles – four times as much as she said treatments should cost.
She said prices were often inflated by the growing use of “add-on treatments” which did not conclusively increase the chance of pregnancy.