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UK Department of Health publishes letter on IVF funding

17 January 2011
Appeared in BioNews 591

Over the last few months BioNews has covered the developing story that a number of PCTs across England have suspended their fertility services, citing financial constraints as a prominent factor.

PCTs as far as West Sussex and Stockport in Cheshire, all announced their intention to suspend or stop funding for fertility treatment in 2010. This has caused alarm among patient support groups, with organisations such as Infertility Network UK and the National Infertility Awareness Campaign (NIAC) suggesting that 'many PCTs seem to think of infertility as an undeserving cause'.

In light of these developments, the NHS deputy chief executive, David Flory, last week sent a letter to all PCT commissioners reminding them of these guidelines and highlighting how many trusts had been able to implement the guidelines. He encouraged those who had been unable to achieve this to aim towards this goal. But the NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) guidelines are only recommendations and PCTs are under no obligation to provide these services leaving them free to make their own local healthcare provision decisions.

The letter from David Flory also reminded the NHS commissioners that the NICE guidelines were up for review, with the publication of any revisions in 2012.

In 2004, NICE published clinical guidelines for fertility services which included recommendations that up to 'three cycles of IVF should be offered to eligible couples where the woman is aged between 23 and 39 years old'.

Commissioning of NHS IVF Services
UK Department of Health (DH) |  11 January 2011
Infertility Network UK
|  14 January 2011
3 September 2012 - by Cathy Holding 
Around one in three women who are entitled to receive IVF are being denied this right, according to a survey carried out by the National Infertility Awareness Campaign (NIAC)...
11 April 2011 - by Nkechi Nwachukwu 
'Bang goes the theory' is a TV show that aims to bring science to the masses by 'putting science and technology to the test'. It tries to achieve this with the aid of four fairly young enthusiastic presenters and a fast-paced style. But did the show achieve its aim with IVF?...
14 March 2011 - by Sujatha Jayakody 
West Cheshire will decide this month whether to become the latest region to suspend NHS-funded IVF treatment. The West Cheshire Health Consortium, which is made up of 38 GP practices, claims it needs to cut IVF to deliver healthcare to its aging population...
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...
28 February 2011 - by Leo Perfect 
Harrow Primary Care Trust (PCT) has reversed its decision to suspend IVF treatment and has adopted a unified policy across neighbouring PCTs in North West London to offer one full cycle of IVF to eligible patients....
20 December 2010 - by Kyrillos Georgiadis 
West Sussex NHS trust is the latest NHS trust to suspend funding of fertility treatment as managers try to cut spending by 50 million. Now patients across the county face months of delays for treatment...
13 December 2010 - by Dr Marianne Kennedy 
NHS Medway in Kent, South East England, has joined several other trusts in suspending funding for new referrals for IVF treatment until the new financial year when the decision will be reviewed....
13 December 2010 - by Nishat Hyder 
UK health minister Andrew Lansley has expressed concern over the temporary suspension of IVF treatment by several NHS Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) across the country due to financial strain....
6 December 2010 - by Kyrillos Georgiadis 
Stockport NHS Trust has announced it is to stop funding IVF treatment for new patients. The Primary Care Trust (PCT), which is attempting to implement spending cuts totalling £21 million, will allow patients currently on its IVF waiting list to receive one cycle of treatment...
22 November 2010 - by Harriet Vickers 
NHS Surrey is the latest Primary Care Trust to stop providing IVF for new patients. Facing a £125 million budget deficit this year, the trust has decided to suspend all new courses of the treatment, although women nearing 40 will be considered and ongoing treatments will be continued. Previously it funded up to two full cycles of IVF per couple, if the woman was aged between 23 and 39...
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