05/03/2002

Royal Hospital to probe Fertility Centre’s procedures

The Royal Hospitals Trust in Belfast has revealed they are conducting an internal investigation into technical administration procedures employed by the Regional Fertility Centre.

The announcement follows claims that the Regional Fertility Centre, based at the Royal Maternity Hospital site in west Belfast has been illegally storing hundreds of human fertilising eggs.

It is understood two inspections of the Fertility’s Centre’s facility by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) discovered embryos and samples which had been in storage longer than the five years maximum legal period at the centre.

New IVF treatments and donor inseminations have been suspended, for at least for four weeks, while the HFEA continue to investigate.

Gerry Carson, Director of Corporate Affairs at the RVH said recommendations made by the HFEA to the Fertility Centre after their inspections in July 2001 and January 2002 had not been shared with the Royal Trust. As a result Mr Carson said they invited the HFEA to bring the Trust up to date with the situation.

However, as the sole licence holder for such services it is unclear whether the Regional Fertility Centre is required to keep the Trust informed.

“That is why we are conducting our own internal investigation with the help of an external specialist,” Mr Carson explained.

“There are obviously breaches and breakdowns in systems and procedures here that need cleared up.”

A statement from the HFEA said: “Following an application from the Royal Hospitals Trust, the HFEA has agreed a variation of the licence for the Regional Fertility Centre, Belfast. This was done at the request of the Trust as it wishes to reduce its activities until improved administrative processes are put in place.”

(AMcE)

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