Postcode lottery for IVF6th August 2009
A Conservative MP has claimed that more than 80% of NHS primary care trusts in England are failing to offer the recommended three free cycles of IVF to infertile couples.
Grant Shapps believes a “postcode lottery” operates where rules on age, relationships and other children vary widely from one PCT to another. Elsewhere, women deemed to old by one PCT for treatment are being seen as too young by another.
And he has challenged Department of Health claims that 30% of PCTs provide three cycles of the fertilisation treatment.
Under guidance published by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence in 2004, PCTs were recommended to provide three cycles of IVF.
Mr Shapps, who has three children by IVF, says his study showed that just 18% of PCTs were offering three cycles with nearly half only offering one, while just under a third offered two.
He was also concerned by the “confusing hotchpotch” of eligibility criteria pointing to the cases of Lincolnshire and Swindon where IVF would be funded if a woman were aged 35 or under while In Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, she would have to be at least 36 before she would be considered.
Clare Lewis-Jones, head of the Infertility Network UK, said that there had been improvements in the provision of treatment.
The Department of Health said its survey of every PCT in England showed the NHS was making good progress in implementing NICE guidelines and in providing fair and consistent access to IVF.
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