IVF clinics are warned not to 'guarantee success'

IVF clinics are warned not to ‘guarantee success’ for patients as watchdog launches crackdown on fertility centres

  •  Concerns about the mis-selling of IVF treatment have led to a crackdown  
  • The competition watchdog has created new tough guidelines for clinics
  • Centres which give the impression their success rates are better than the reality are likely to be in breach of law, according to Competition and Markets Authority

Concerns about the mis-selling of IVF treatment have led to a crackdown on fertility clinic practices.

The competition watchdog has created new tough guidelines for clinics and patients, highlighting that some clinics are wrongly offering women a ‘guaranteed baby’ or claiming to be ‘number one in the UK for success rates’.

Centres which give the impression their success rates are better than the reality are likely to be in breach of consumer law, according to the Competition and Markets Authority. 

Prices can exceed £20,000 for a cycle of IVF. 

The competition watchdog has created new tough guidelines for clinics and patients, highlighting that some clinics are wrongly offering women a ‘guaranteed baby’ or claiming to be ‘number one in the UK for success rates’ (stock image) 

The new guidelines state: ‘Clinics should not be advertising misleadingly low headline prices to attract patients.’

Centres which break consumer law in their business practices could be taken to court, or required by a court to give financial compensation to wronged couples.

Dr Raj Mathur, chairman of the British Fertility Society, which represents members of the private fertility sector and the NHS, said that ‘clinics should represent success rates in a responsible way in line with the regulations’.

The Advertising Standards Authority has meanwhile issued an enforcement notice instructing clinics to review their advertising to ensure compliance with the Advertising Code, warning it will take action if problems continue after November.

Louise Strong, consumer director at the CMA, said: ‘Buying fertility treatment is a big decision – it can be complicated, stressful and very expensive, with no guarantee of success.

‘All patients deserve to have the information they need to make the right choices for them and be treated fairly.

The new guidelines state: ‘Clinics should not be advertising misleadingly low headline prices to attract patients’ (stock image) 

‘Our guidance should help clinics understand their legal obligations. In six months, we will be reviewing compliance in the sector and we will be ready to take enforcement action if businesses are breaking the law.’

In February, the CMA announced it was looking into the fertility industry over concerns of possible ‘mis-selling of services’ and misleading claims about success rates.

In its guidelines for patients, the watchdog warns that some clinics may ‘cherry-pick’ which success rates they advertise to make their results seem better than they are.

Examples include using the success rates of a particularly good year, rather than the latest ones, or choosing a selected group of patients with better results.

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