County couples only get one round of IVF on NHS
Couples who want to have a baby in Shropshire are only eligible for one round of IVF – while across the border in Wales they are allowed two attempts.
NHS bosses in both Telford and Shropshire today confirmed they offer only one round of fertility treatment funded by the IVF.
Both say if the patient meets the criteria for treatment, they will offer the one round.
This is despite national guidelines recommending three attempts on the NHS and the fact that couples in Wales are allowed two.
Telford & Wrekin and Shropshire clinical commissioning groups today revealed their policies amid controversy nationally about the postcode lottery for couples wanting fertility treatment.
Telford & Wrekin CCG says the limit allows for increased access to NHS treatment and ensures that couples are treated in a timely manner. The group says there are no current plans to restrict further or halt the commissioning of IVF services in the borough.
Filippa St Aubin d'Ancey, a spokeswoman for the CCG groups, said: "Shropshire CCG currently funds one cycle of IVF treatment under the terms of the current policy which was published in April 2011. Many CCGs will offer varying cycles of IVF, there is not a standard. The current policy is available on the CCG website. "
Guidelines from the advisory group NICE, issued 13 years ago, 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.
But it is up to local NHS providers to decide what to offer, and the recommendation is not a set standard.
It comes after it was revealed that NHS access to IVF is being cut across England.
Fertility Network UK, which monitors IVF provision, says the situation is getting worse and in stark contrast to that in Scotland, where women can get three full cycles of NHS-funded treatment.
An NHS England spokesman said Clinical Commissioning Groups had "to balance demands on the NHS locally".
IVF treatment has been restricted or halted in 13 areas since January. Eight other parts of England are consulting on taking similar steps, says the charity.
But IVF provision across the country has been variable for years.
An NHS England spokesman said: "Ultimately these are decisions for Clinical Commissioning Groups, who are under an obligation to balance the various competing demands on the NHS locally while living within the budget parliament has allocated."
Since 2010, Wales has offered two rounds of IVF to eligible women. In Northern Ireland, women are offered one IVF cycle, while in Scotland all couples can access three rounds.