Campaigners call for more fairness on IVF

The number of NHS groups offering the recommended three rounds of IVF cycles to eligible women has halved in the last five years, new figures reveal.

Campaign group Fertility Fairness say only 12 per cent of clinical commissioning groups offer the recommended three IVF cycles - down from 24 per cent in 2013.

NHS bosses in both Telford and Shropshire confirmed in August they offer only one round of IVF treatment.

Both said if the patient meets the criteria for treatment, they will offer the one round.

Telford & Wrekin CCG said the limit allows for increased access to NHS treatment and ensures that couples are treated in a timely manner.

The group said there were no current plans to restrict further or halt the commissioning of IVF services in the borough.

The data shows the top four areas in the UK for accessing three rounds of IVF are all in Greater Manchester.

The areas that do not offer any NHS IVF are Herts Valleys, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Croydon, South Norfolk, Basildon & Brentwood, Mid Essex and North East Essex.

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.

Sarah Norcross, co-chair of Fertility Fairness said: ‘The scale of disinvestment in NHS fertility services is at its worst since NICE introduced national fertility guidelines in 2004.

"Fertility Fairness is calling for full implementation of the NICE guidelines, standardisation of eligibility criteria across England and the development of a national tariff in England for tertiary fertility services - eliminating regional cost variants and removing a key barrier to CCGs’ compliance with national guidelines."

Susan Seenan, co-chair of Fertility Fairness and chief executive of patient charity Fertility Network UK, said: "This National Fertility Awareness Week we are commemorating 40 years of IVF, 40 years of a life-changing technology pioneered in England.

"However, that achievement means nothing if only those who can afford private IVF benefit.

"The Government should be ashamed that, after 40 years of IVF, it is your postcode and your pay packet, and not your medical need, which are the key determinants of whether you will be able to try IVF."

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