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Third of UK women entitled to IVF turned away by GPs, survey suggests

03 September 2012

By Cathy Holding

Appeared in BioNews 671

Around one in three women entitled to receive IVF are being denied this right, according to a survey carried out by the National Infertility Awareness Campaign (NIAC).

More than 400 women attending fertility clinics were surveyed, with 38 percent found to have been incorrectly denied treatment according to guidelines set out by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). This was attributed to a lack of knowledge on issues of infertility and treatment options from their local GPs.

Dr Clare Gerada, the chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, told the Guardian newspaper: 'I don't usually take very seriously surveys that show that GPs don't know what they are doing but I agree with this survey. I'm surprised and worried that GPs aren't sympathetic'.

One in six couples in the UK face infertility, currently defined by NICE as the inability to conceive a child naturally after trying for three years. The recent NIAC survey of women dealing with infertility found nearly half said that their GPs were not knowledgeable about their condition or of the treatment options available. Of those who were referred to a specialist for IVF treatment, 27 percent had to wait over a year for treatment and 12 percent  up to two years, further reducing their chances of conceiving.

'Infertility treatment has for too long been seen as a low priority, failing the one in six couples who live with the devastating impact this illness has on their lives', said Ms Clare Lewis-Jones, the chair of NIAC and CEO of the patient charity Infertility Network UK.

From 2013, local GP-led Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) will take on the commissioning responsibilities of services such as infertility treatment, a decision that has concerned NIAC. 'Our main concern stems from the level of preparation within each CCG as our survey results have led us to have some concerns about the readiness of these groups to take on this role', said Ms Lewis-Jones.

'The stress of IVF is unavoidable. What is avoidable, however, is the exacerbation of these effects through reductions to services and long waiting times'. Last year 73 percent of NHS primary care trusts failed to provide comprehensive IVF treatment to infertile couples in their area, according to a report from MPs.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Mail Online | 27 August 2012
 
All Party Parliamentary Group on Infertility | 07 June 2011
 
Guardian | 27 August 2012
 
Study finds GPs unsympathetic to infertile couples
Infertility Network UK | 28 August 2012
 

RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE

09 June 2014 - by Purvi Shah 
The Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group has agreed in principle to fund IVF treatment for couples in the area, although a formal decision on the matter will be made at a later date....
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In 2011, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Infertility found that over 70 percent of NHS Primary Care Trusts were not providing the recommended three full cycles of IVF to eligible couples. Three years later, there has been a very real and very disappointing lack of progress...
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The Progress Educational Trust's debate, 'NICE Try… But is anyone listening?', considered the impact of the radical structural changes to the NHS on the state provision of IVF. At least two central critical themes emerged from the debate: a critique of method and a critique of measure...
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28 May 2012 - by Mark Johnson 
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28 February 2011 - by Ayesha Ahmad 
A survey by Pulse, a weekly magazine aimed at General Practitioners (GPs), has revealed that 31 percent of GPs report that their patients are facing restrictions in IVF treatment following the latest cost-saving measures...
17 January 2011 - by Chris Chatterton 
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