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Age limit on free IVF could be abandoned

5 July 2010
Appeared in BioNews 565

The UK's National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is considering lifting its age limit for free IVF on the NHS, as part of a full review of its guidelines. Instead, women would be offered free IVF on the NHS if they had enough viable eggs.

This would mean women over 40 could receive free IVF on the NHS for the first time. Women between 23 and 39, who are currently eligible for three free cycles of IVF, meanwhile, could be denied it if their eggs are deemed unsuitable.

NICE is currently reviewing all its guidelines to ensure they comply with the Equality Act passed by the previous government, which aims to end age-related discrimination.

Fertility expert Dr Allan Pacey, from Sheffield University, described NICE's decision to review its IVF guidelines as: 'logical to move away from age guidelines to ovarian reserve. It is unfair now'.

His views were echoed by Dr Marco Gaudoin, medical director for the Glasgow centre for Reproductive Medicine. He said it was time NICE caught up with developments in reproductive medicine and believes the tests used to check how many viable eggs a woman has are an accurate indicator of fertility.

He continued: 'we see 40-year-olds who are not allowed treatment on the NHS and we find often that in fact they have a pretty good ovarian reserve and a good chance of successful treatment'.

But fertility doctor and vice-chairman of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Dr Gillian Lockwood cautioned against some of the changes, saying: 'NICE seem to think that the best thing is to spend money on those with the best chance of a pregnancy; there is nothing fair about that at all'.

NICE will not finalise its new guidelines until 2012, according to The Daily Telegraph newspaper.

Baby Hope: Women Over 40 May Get Free IVF
Sky News |  28 June 2010
Free IVF for women over 40, says NICE
Made for Mums |  28 June 2010
Women aged 40 and over could be given free IVF treatment
The Telegraph |  26 June 2010
Women over 40 to get IVF free on NHS
The Mirror |  29 June 2010
26 July 2010 - by Dr Charlotte Maden 
A mathematical model for predicting a couple's chances of a successful pregnancy by IVF after one failed attempt has been developed by US researchers. The model is 1000 times more accurate at predicting a positive outcome than standard methods, which are mainly based on a woman's age. The model may help clinics give more personalised and reliable advice to couples...
28 June 2010 - by Dr Søren Ziebe 
Around two children in each Danish school class was conceived using some form of ART and Danish fertility clinics are involved in the birth of eight per cent of children born each year. So it is extremely troubling that the Government has chosen to play roulette with Danish fertility by introducing 100 per cent patient payment for ART in public clinics...
5 June 2010 - by Dr Nadeem Shaikh 
Political consensus in Denmark has resulted in an amendment to legislation governing IVF funding. According to the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE), free public health services will no longer extend towards assisted reproduction treatments (ART)....
14 March 2010 - by Rosie Beauchamp 
Yves Bolduc, the Minister for Health in Quebec, Canada, has announced plans to introduce free fertility treatment through the extension of Medicare coverage. This move will fulfil Premier Jean Charest's 2008 campaign promise...
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