15 January 2009
Following Royal Assent of the Human Embryology and Fertilisation Act 2008 in November, the Department of Health (DH) is currently conducting a three month consultation on draft regulations to implement the Act. Regulations and proposals have been made which fall into four broad categories:
The consultation is aimed at gathering views on key principles of each set of regulations and the draft regulations themselves. The DH is aiming to bring most of the provisions of the Act into force by October 2009 following consideration of the any relevant regulations by Parliament in the summer. However, the provisions of the Act relating to parenthood will come into force earlier, in April whilst those relating to parental orders will commence in April 2010.
The British Fertility Society (BFS), along with a multidisciplinary working group, has also released new UK guidelines relating to laboratory procedure in the screening of sperm, egg and embryo donors in the UK (see press release). The recommendations update and combine in a single document guidelines that had previously been published by the British Andrology Society for sperm donors and the BFS for egg and embryo donors. They are aimed at protecting recipients of donor material as well as any donor conceived people from acquiring infections or serious heritable disorders from the donor. Along with the recommendation that donors should be assessed/screened for infectious diseases and inherited conditions, a new recommendation is the requirement to assess risk of prion-related diseases and the recommendation to screen for human lymphotropic viruses (HTLV) 1 and 2.