It is Fertility Awareness Week 2018 and as expected, infertility and access to NHS funded treatment is getting the exposure that it deserves in the national press.
With 1 in 6 couples struggling to become parents, funding is always likely to be stretched, but the major concern is how funding is being distributed and whether access to funding is fair across all areas. We firmly believe that every couple has the right to start a family and every couple deserves to have the same chance as another, regardless of where you live.
Age restrictions should also be consistent from one area to the next. The BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme led this morning with the fact that Women over 34 are being refused IVF treatment in 12 areas of England. When compared to couples in Wales and Scotland, who are offered IVF until they are 42, assuming certain criteria are met, this hardly seems fair.
NICE guidelines suggest that women under 40 should be offered 3 full cycles of IVF and those between the ages for 40 and 42 should be offered one full cycle. This unfortunately isn’t happening across many of England’s CCGs.
Luciano Nardo, Clinical Director at RHG, believes that IVF care should be individualised and funding based on more in-depth initial assessment, not simply age and weight criteria. “It is well known that access to NHS-funded IVF cycles in England varies depending on qualifying criteria set by local Clinical Commissioning Groups. Whilst the intention is to distribute the limited funding fairly, openly and cost-effectively, however in my opinion most emphasis should be given to clinical prognostic criteria which should be the same across the country. It is fine that female chronological age and body mass index are used as general criteria, but blanket bans are unacceptable. Instead attempts should be offered to individualise IVF care and the relevant funding stream based on bio-clinical assessment of ovarian reserve and weight loss programmes.”
We are supporting Fertility Network UK in their pursuit of fairness and also their #Scream4IVF campaign (in conjunction with IVFBabble.com), who together are aiming to collect 100,000 signatures on their petition so that the issue of unfair IVF access can be debated in the Houses of Parliament.
We would also encourage anybody who has suffered from infertility, or knows someone who has struggled to start a family to donate to the UK’s leading fertility support charity, Fertility Network UK, who provide invaluable information, support and advice to all those struggling to conceive and rely on funding to continue their invaluable support. You can donate via the Just Giving page here.