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Monday, 07 August 2017

Charity warns of 'deliberate inequality' over cutbacks to IVF treatment in some areas

Written by The Press Association

Plans to cut back on IVF treatment in some areas of England have prompted a fertility specialist to warn of "deliberate inequality".

Posts on the website of leading patient charity Fertility Network UK warn of stricter access criteria and plans to cut NHS IVF in various areas.

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) guidelines say the NHS should provide three full cycles of IVF treatment for women aged under 40 who have failed to get pregnant after two years of trying.

Richmond clinical commissioning group (CCG) in south-west London is introducing tighter access criteria for NHS IVF, while continuing to offer one partial NHS-funded IVF cycle for women under 40, according to Fertility Network UK.

The charity says that Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire CCGs are proposing to reduce the female age criteria, so that only women aged between 30-35 will be able to access NHS fertility treatment.

A spokesman for the three CCGs told the Guardian: "We know how hard it can be for couples who are struggling to conceive and will continue to offer fertility treatment to hundreds of people every year. Clinical evidence shows that treatment between the ages of 30-35 offers the highest possible chance of success."

Fertility Network UK also says that Redditch and Bromsgrove, South Worcestershire and Wyre Forest CCGs have cut the number of NHS IVF cycles they offer from two to one.

Professor Simon Fishel (pictured), founder of the Care Fertility network of clinics, asked the Guardian: "What is the point of having Nice guidelines if they are not adhered to?"

He added: "If the country decides it will not fund IVF then fine, that is a decision that affects everyone ... but what I cannot abide is the local variation for something like this, which doesn't reflect local populations.

"You have to treat citizens equally and this is a deliberate inequality and obfuscation and allows some areas to say they are offering IVF but when it comes down to the detail, only a tiny fraction of those who need it have access to it."

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