NHS care providers not offering IVF when they should

Over 70% of the NHS care providers and trusts are ignoring the official guidance of three chances at IVF offered to infertile couples, per a report a group of MPs. There are care trusts that have discontinued IVF altogether while others put tough restrictions on who is able to qualify.

The MPs described it as a postcode lottery of care wanting trusts to implement the correct official guidelines properly. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in 2004 said couples where the female is 23 to 39 should receive up to three cycles from the NHS of IVF.

The devolved healthcare system in the UK this applies to Wales and England but will be taken into account in Northern Ireland and Scotland. Freedom of information requests were sent by All Party Parliamentary Group on Infertility to the primary care trusts (PCT) in England, Scotland and Wales health boards and Northern Ireland social and healthcare trusts.

Answers came back revealing that 70% of those authorities contacted ignored the NICE guidance and put their own strict limits in place on who could receive treatment. An example is that the Bury PCT only allowed women between the ages of 39 and 40 to be treated although since April they have fallen in with the guidance and allowed IVF treatment to per the NICE guidelines.

In many Welsh Health Boards there were similar circumstances however a Welsh Government spokesperson pointed out that treatment with IVF was a devolved matter in Wales.

Two cycles of IVF are offered to women in Wales where they are first assessed as to eligibility against nationally agreed social and clinical criteria. The age is for women between 23 and 38 years plus six months when referred. Over time the intention is to offer three cycles as per NICE guidelines.

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