Reproduction and Fertility is an open-access, peer-reviewed journal
Page URL:

London clinic calls for end to IVF 'postcode lottery', offers 21 free IVF cycles

23 November 2009
Appeared in BioNews 535

The Lister Fertility Clinic in London is offering free fertility treatment to 21 couples to mark its 21st birthday and the opening of their newly expanded clinic. Mr Sam Abdalla, Medical Director of the clinic, said that the gesture was part of the clinic's 'duty to make treatment more accessible' and an ongoing commitment to offer a number of free cycles each year as part of the clinic's 'community programme.'

In a press statement, Mr Abdalla referred to the widespread failure of PCTs to offer the full three cycles of IVF treatment recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) as 'scandalous'. He said: 'We believe that the full implementation of the NICE guidelines is long overdue... Age has the most profound effect on fertility treatment and therefore the longer patients wait, the lower their chances of having a baby.'

NICE guidelines issued in 2004 recommend providing three full cycles of IVF to infertile couples in which the woman is aged between 23 and 39, as well as the replacement of frozen embryos should the couple fail to conceive with fresh ones. However, a report published in August this year by Tory MP Grant Shapps concluded that eight out of 10 PCTs are not meeting this target.

Mr Abdalla commented that even patients with a lower than average chance of getting pregnant should still be allowed to decide for themselves whether and when they want to proceed with IVF treatment. He said: 'Clinics under the intense pressure of performance-related competitions such as League Tables may advise these patients to choose other modalities or to give up. We at The Lister believe that these decisions on how or whether to proceed with treatment should always remain with the patients, having been empowered with the information of their realistic chances of having a baby following treatment.'

Earlier this week Edwina Hart, the Welsh Health Minister, announced that women in Wales will be able to access two cycles of IVF paid for by the NHS from April next year. The Welsh government has been under pressure from lobbyists to match England's quota of three IVF cycles per patient, however, Ms Hart MP said the Health Committee was 'keen to increase the number of IVF treatment cycles available to women on the NHS within available resources' in order to ensure 'a fair, consistent policy for accessing this treatment'.

Infertility affects up to one in seven couples in the UK. It is estimated that that approximately three-quarters of IVF cycles carried out in the UK are paid for privately at a cost of £3,000 or more per cycle.

All infertile couples must get free IVF, says doctor
This is London |  20 November 2009
Call to end IVF 'postcode lottery'
Press Association |  19 November 2009
Couples 'to have two IVF cycles'
BBC News |  17 November 2009
Free IVF treatment to be extended
Associated Press |  18 November 2009
IVF cycles should be free on the NHS
Nursing Times |  19 November 2009
Sam Abdalla demands an end to ‘postcode lotteries’ for IVF and announces 21 free IVF treatments
The Lister Clinic press release |  19 November 2009
Two free cycles of NHS-funded IVF from April
Wales Online |  18 November 2009
25 June 2012 - by Jessica Ware 
The Sher Institute, a network of eight fertility clinics in the USA, has announced the three couples to win an IVF giveaway contest...
29 October 2009 - by Ben Jones 
The Labour party is urging the Scottish parliament to take action to standardise IVF provision across Scotland, after Labour MSP Jackie Baillie discovered wide disparities in provision between the 11 Scottish NHS boards. Ms Baillie contacted all of the boards after having been approached by a constituent who was upset about the length of IVF waiting lists where they lived....
10 August 2009 - by Ailsa Stevens 
More than eight out of 10 PCTs are still failing to offer the full three cycles of IVFtreatment as recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), according to a report published by Tory MP Grant Shapps this week. The report revealed further inconsistencies in the criteria PCTs were using to decide who should get NHS-funded IVF, resulting in some mothers being both too old and too young to access treatment, depending on where they lived....
9 August 2009 - by Grant Shapps MP 
For anyone who has found it easy to conceive naturally, it's possibly hard to imagine how IVF can become all-encompassing in someone's life. The endless check-ups, scans, tests, periods of waiting and - finally - the day when you learn the result. It's a physically punishing process for the women and an emotionally exhausting process for both partners...
1 June 2009 - by Sally Cheshire CBE 
Around one in six couples in the UK seek specialist treatment for fertility problems, and infertility can have a profoundly distressing and devastating impact. British patients have traditionally faced considerable inequality of access to NHS treatment, resulting in many having to resort to privately-funded treatment, and there continue to be...
26 May 2009 - by Sarah Pritchard 
Two separate online petitions are calling for a change to the way IVF services are provided under the UK's National Health Service (NHS). Janine Macallister, 27, of Newport, Shropshire and Richard Mackenzie, 29, from Whitney, Oxfordshire have each started a petition calling for their local Primary Care...
to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions

Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.