Mr Lansley responded to questions on the adequacy of the provision of IVF raised in Parliament last week by Gareth Johnson, Conservative MP for Dartford. Mr Lansley stated: 'I am aware that a small number of PCTs with historical funding problems have temporarily suspended local NHS provision of IVF services. I have already expressed my concerns about that approach'.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends eligible patients should be entitled to three cycles of IVF treatment on the NHS. Mr Lansley said: 'I expect all PCTs to have regard to the current NICE guidance and to recognise fully the significant distress and impact that infertility has on people's lives'.
Mr Lansley, former vice-chair of the all-party group on infertility established to raise awareness of fertility issues in Parliament, shared Mr Johnson's disappointment that PCTs continue to fall short of the NICE guidelines - especially given that British IVF pioneer Professor Robert Edwards was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine this year. 'I'm sure that Professor Edwards would be dismayed that some PCTs have suspended their IVF provision', said Mr Johnson, urging them to reconsider decisions to suspend IVF treatment.
Labour MP Kevin Barron questioned who would take responsibility for the provision of infertility services under the proposed National Commissioning Board, which would oversee how healthcare practices are assigned for allocation by the GP consortia. Although Mr Lansley gave no firm answer, he emphasised the importance of a 'clinically-led decision' in such matters, and the need to minimise 'political interference'.