10 March 2017

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, 27 Sussex Place, Regent’s Park, London NW1 4RG

29 March 2017 6pm (wine reception), 6.30pm-8.30pm (panel discussion)

This Progress Educational Trust event, which is sponsored by the British Fertility Society, will begin with a wine reception at 6pm followed by a panel discussion at 6.30pm. To reserve your free place, email sstarr [at]

The panel discussion will be chaired by FIONA FOX (Chair of Trustees at the Progress Educational Trust and Chief Executive of the Science Media Centre) with speakers PROFESSOR ADAM BALEN (Chair of the British Fertility Society), SALLY CHESHIRE (Chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority), DR SIMON FISHEL (Founder and President of CARE Fertility) and DR RAJ MATHUR (Lead for Reproductive Medicine at St Mary’s Hospital in Manchester).

Fertility treatment ‘add-ons’ are procedures and treatments offered alongside IVF – sometimes at considerable expense to the patient – which may not be supported by robust evidence. The benefits, harms and appropriateness of add-ons are often open to question, and the role of add-ons in fertility treatment has become a matter of heated debate among professionals and a source of confusion for patients.

Recently, add-ons have been discussed and debated in a controversial episode of the BBC1 programme Panorama entitled Inside Britain’s Fertility Business, in two studies published by in the British Medical Journal, in a study published by the journal Human Reproduction, and in work undertaken by the UK’s fertility regulator – the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).

Our event will ask:

• What counts as an add-on?

• Who is best placed to judge the evidence for add-ons, and what is the ideal standard of evidence?

• How much evidence is it reasonable to expect, before a treatment is offered to patients?

• What is the role of the HFEA, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and professional bodies such as the British Fertility Society, in helping patients navigate add-ons?

• What is the duty of the medical professional, and what is the role of patient choice?

Much of the event’s running time will be devoted to letting YOU put questions and comments to the speakers.

Debate: NICE and infertility treatment

25 March 2013

You are invited to attend the Progress Educational Trust’s FREE public debate ‘NICE TRY…BUT IS ANYONE LISTENING?‘ at London’s Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists on the evening of Tuesday 16 April 2013. This event is taking place from 6.30pm-8pm, and is sponsored by the British Fertility Society.

The debate will see speakers including DR JAMES KINGSLAND (President of the National Association of Primary Care) and DR YACOUB KHALAF (Director of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust’s Assisted Conception Unit) debate the key changes that have recently been made to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)’s Clinical Guideline on Fertility.

The provision of fertility services on the NHS has fallen short of the standards set by NICE’s original 2004 fertility guideline. The updated guideline expands the range of people who may be eligible for NHS-funded treatment, giving hope to those who may previously have been denied treatment on grounds including age or having a same-sex partner. These hopes may be dashed, however, if the current provision of fertility treatment does not improve.

This debate will consider the current levels of access to treatment in England, as well as the finer detail of the updated fertility guideline and what the future holds. If you should like to attend, please RSVP by email at sstarr [at]

In addition to being invited to attend the 16 April event, you are also invited to respond to an online poll about donor conception which forms part of its Wellcome Trust supported project ‘WHEN IT TAKES MORE THAN TWO’.

The poll contains six questions (all of which were suggested by audiences at the Progress Educational Trust’s last three public events) and takes only a few minutes to complete. All responses will be anonymous.

Debate: The Donor-Conceived Perspective

13 February 2013

You are invited to attend the Progress Educational Trust’s FREE public debate ‘BEING: THE DONOR-CONCEIVED PERSPECTIVE‘ at University College London on the evening of Thursday 28 February 2013. This event is taking place from 6.30pm-8.30pm, and forms part of the Wellcome Trust supported project ‘WHEN IT TAKES MORE THAN TWO’.

The debate will see speakers including DR TABITHA FREEMAN (of the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Family Research), CHRISTINE GUNTER (Coordinator of the voluntary contact register UK DonorLink, which is now closing following Government funding cuts) and two donor-conceived people (KEVIN MOORE and JESS PEARCE) – chaired by PROFESSOR ERIC BLYTH (Co-chair of the British Association of Social Workers’ Project Group on Assisted Reproduction) – give contrasting perspectives on questions including:

• Are people entitled to know that they are donor-conceived? (Their parents are under no formal obligation to inform them, even now that entitlement to donor anonymity has been removed.) What impact does how and when someone discovers that they are donor-conceived have upon them?

• What are the ramifications for donor-conceived people of the recent High Court ruling – that permitted two sperm donors in a same-sex relationship to apply for contact with their biological children, conceived through a known donation arrangement with two different lesbian couples?

• Is there a point at which it should be the prerogative of donor-conceived people, rather than the prerogative of their parents, to decide who is and is not informed of the fact that they are donor-conceived? If so, then when does this occur and how?

• What is the impact upon donor-conceived people of discovering that they have (in some instances, an enormous number of) genetic half-siblings, in the form of the children of the donor who conceived them and/or other people who were conceived with that donor’s gametes? Should the tracing of half-siblings be encouraged and facilitated?

• What support will be provided to the first generation of donor-conceived people legally entitled to initiate contact with the relevant donors? Who will provide this support, and how will it be funded? In light of the closure of UK Donor Link, what options are available to those who were donor-conceived prior to the 1991 formation of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority?
If you should like to attend, please RSVP by email to Sandy Starr: sstarr [at]

Conference: Assisted Dying

18 October 2012

A study day on Assisted Dying

The Society for Ethics and Law in Medicine

Friday 30 November 2012 at the Royal College of Anaesthetists

9:30 – 10:00 Coffee and Registration

10:00 – 10:10 Welcome and Introduction

Professor Peter Hutton

10:10 – 10:55 UK Law: the lawyer’s perspective

Zoe Johnson QC

10:55 – 11:45 UK Law: How it affects clinical practice

10.55 – 11.20: Dr Dave Spooner (Cancer patients)

11.20 – 11.45: Dr Steve Sturman (Neurological conditions)

11:45– 12.30  UK Law: How does it differ from Europe?

Professor Penney Lewis

12.30 – 12.50 Panel questions & discussion

13:00– 14:00 Lunch

14:00 – 14:45  A view from the public

Irene Dalton

14:45 – 15:30 A retrospective on Tony Bland

Anthony Lester QC

15:30 – 15:45 Coffee

15:45 – 16:30 Debate: This house believes that UK law in relation to assisted dying is indefensible

For: Dr Peter Nightingale

Against: Dr Tom Clutton Brock

16:30– 16:35 Closing remarks

Professor Peter Hutton

Download an application form or contact Professor Peter Hutton ‎via email: peterhutton007 [at]


26 July 2012

City University London’s Oliver Thompson Lecture Theatre from 6.30pm-8.30pm on Tuesday 25 September 2012

The debate is organised by Progress Educational Trust in partnership with City University’s Science Journalism course. The debate concerns new IVF techniques that use genetic material from three people in order to to prevent children from inheriting mitochondrial diseases, and will address the question (the subject of a forthcoming HFEA consultation) of whether there should be a change in the law to permit the use of these new techniques in a clinical trial or in treatment.

The debate will be chaired by PROFESSOR SIR MARK WALPORT (outgoing Director of the Wellcome Trust and incoming Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government), and will feature speakers MARY HERBERT (Professor of Reproductive Biology at Newcastle University and one of the researchers currently developing mitochondrial exchange techniques), ALISON MAGUIRE (Research Executive at the Lily Foundation for Research into Mitochondrial Disease), MARTIN RICHARDS (Emeritus Professor of Family Research at the University of Cambridge), DR JACKIE LEACH SCULLY (Codirector of Newcastle University’s Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences Research Centre), and JOHN WYATT (Emeritus Professor of Ethics and Perinatology at University College London).

If you would like to attend this free debate, please RSVP to Sandy Starr by email at sstarr [at]


26 July 2012

University College London’s Darwin Lecture Theatre from 6.30pm-8.30pm on Tuesday 11 September 2012

The debate is being organised by Progress Educational Trust in partnership with the Anne McLaren Memorial Fund. The debate concerns the uncertain future of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), and will address the question (currently the subject of a Government consultation) of whether or not the HFEA should be abolished and to whom its functions might be transferred.

The debate will be chaired by PETER BRAUDE (Emeritus Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at King’s College London), and will feature speakers FRANK DOBSON (Labour MP for Holborn and St Pancras), NATALIE GAMBLE (Solicitor at Natalie Gamble Associates, mother of donor-conceived children and egg donor), and ALISON MURDOCH (Head of the Fertility Centre at the Newcastle Centre for Life and Professor of Reproductive Medicine at Newcastle University).

To attend this FREE public debate, please RSVP to Sandy Starr: sstarr [at]

Debate: Assisted Dying: A Matter of Choice?

22 March 2012

3rd April 2012, Registration 6.00pm – Debate starts 6.30pm – Bar open from 7.45pm

The Law Society, 113 Chancery Lane, London, WC2A 1PL

The debate on the highly contentious issue of assisted dying has dramatically reopened in 2012 with the publication of guidance by the Director of Public Prosecutions, a report by the Commission on Assisted Dying and a high court decision protecting lawyers and doctors from prosecution for acting on behalf of clients that want help to end their lives.

In the first Law Society Public Debate Series of the new year, our panel examines the current state of the law on assisted dying; the principles the law should espouse; the practical aspects such as eligibility criteria and safeguards that would be necessary to entertain a change in the law; the recommendations of the Report of the Commission on Assisted Dying and; the question of whether reform of the law would precipitate undesirable culture change around the issue of assisted dying.

The event will be chaired by Lucy Scott-Moncrieff, Vice President of the Law Society.

The Panel

Baroness Young – Commission on Assisted Dying

Debbie Purdy – Campaigner, won case in 2009 demanding greater clarity from the DPP

Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick – Not Dead Yet UK

Robert Preston – Director, Living and Dying Well

Who should attend
This event is open to both members of the Law Society and the public. This debate is recommended for anyone interested in the debate topic, including:
• Law Society members
• Academics
• Solicitors in not-for-profit organisations
• Students

A Q&A session will follow the debate, and the Law Society bar will open from 7.45pm. Please register online.

Debates: inter-medical school debates on issues in medical ethics

15 March 2012
  • Should Somatic support be prolonged for a brain dead woman who is 23 weeks pregnant until the foetus can be safely delivered with a good chance of survival?
  • Should a 15 year old be allowed to refuse chemotherapy?
  • Should a non UK resident be provided with dialysis funded by the NHS?

Come and hear debates on these and other issues at the inaugural inter-medical school ethics debating competition on Wednesday 28th March, 5 – 7.30 in the Burroughs Room, Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, NW1 2BE.

The judging panel includes:

Dr Marika Davies, Medico-legal adviser, MPS, Dr Julian Sheather, Ethics Manager, Medical Ethics Department, British Medical Association and Dr David Misselbrook, Dean of Royal Society of Medicine

Refreshments kindly provided by Wellcome

RSVP: Dr Carolyn Johnston, Adviser Medical Law and Ethics, King’s College London, carolyn.johnston [at]

Debates: Genes, Ancestry and Racial Identity

14 March 2011

You are invited to attend the next two FREE evening events being organised by the Progress Educational Trust – in central London on Tuesday 5 April and in central Liverpool on Tuesday 10 May – as part of its project ‘GENES, ANCESTRY AND RACIAL IDENTITY: DOES IT MATTER WHERE YOUR GENES COME FROM?‘.

The first debate, ‘IS THERE A PLACE FOR RACE IN BIOLOGY?‘, will take place at 6.30pm on Tuesday 5 April at University College London.

This debate will see DR NEIL BRADMAN (Chair of University College London‘s Centre for Genetic Anthropology), DR AARATHI PRASAD (presenter of the TV programme ‘Is It Better to Be Mixed Race?‘) and DR JIM WILSON (Managing Director and Founder of EthnoAncestry) debate what, if anything, the word ‘race’ can offer us.

Are there contexts, in biology or more broadly, in which the term ‘race’ is legitimate and useful? Or should we be seeking to put it behind us?

The second debate, ‘WILL PHARMACOGENETICS LEAD TO COLOUR-CODED MEDICINE?‘, will take place at 6.30pm on Tuesday 10 May at the University of Liverpool‘s Foresight Centre.

This debate will see MUNIR PIRMOHAMED (Professor of Molecular and Clinical Pharmacology and NHS Chair of Pharmacogenetics at the University of Liverpool), DR RICHARD TUTTON (Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Lancaster University) and STEPHEN WILKINSON (Professor of Bioethics and Head of the Research Centre for Law, Ethics and Society at Keele University) debate the potential of pharmacogenetics. What might pharmacogenetics mean for our understanding of, and attitudes toward, race?

In the Progress Educational Trust tradition, following introductory presentations, the bulk of each debate’s running time will be devoted to soliciting questions and comments from the audience.

If you would like to attend either event or both events (please specify as appropriate), please RSVP to sstarr [at] – places at each event are limited, and will be awarded on a first-come first-served basis.

The first debate, ‘IS THERE A PLACE FOR RACE IN BIOLOGY?‘, will take place at 6.30pm on Tuesday 5 April at University College London.

Debates: Battle of Ideas medical ethics strand

7 October 2010

Battle for Medical Ethics
Battle of Ideas 2010, Royal College of Art, London
October 30 and 31, 2010

“The success of modern scientific medicine in prolonging our lives has thrown up a number of new dilemmas. As people live longer, medicine faces new challenges from ageing-related diseases: can we afford to treat these conditions in ever more people, and who should decide? Is it up to us to guarantee our own quality of life in old age by living healthily all our lives? And if so, should patients have more say over treatments, rather than old-fashioned medical authorities? Should we be free to choose alternative therapies, or should the medical profession reassert the primacy of scientific medicine?”

Saturday 30 October 2010

10.30am to 12.00pm Lecture Theatre 1
Ageing and medicine: quality versus quantity?

12.15pm to 1.15pm Lecture Theatre 1
Alternative medicine: the pros and cons

1.30pm to 3.00pm Lecture Theatre 1
Rationing and medicine: what price life? (featuring John Harris,
Lord Alliance Professor of Bioethics, University of Manchester; joint editor-in-chief The Journal of Medical Ethics; member, Human Genetics Commission)

3.30pm to 5.00pm Lecture Theatre 1
Patient centred healthcare: the right to choose?

5.15pm to 6.30pm Lecture Theatre 1
Debating Matters International Final: Organ Donation – UK versus India