Page URL:

IVF funding: Three-quarters of commissioners fall short

27 January 2014
Appeared in BioNews 739

A survey carried out by the National Infertility Awareness Campaign (NIAC) has found that 73 percent of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are not funding the recommended number of IVF cycles.

GP-led CCGs have been responsible for commissioning fertility services since April 2013. Although many CCGs are currently reviewing their infertility policies, some are choosing to continue with the policies of their predecessor organisations.

Clare Lewis-Jones, chair of NIAC, said: 'I acknowledge the fact that CCGs are still finding their feet but this should not prevent commissioners from acting on NICE's latest guideline, which should serve as the basis for all future funding discussions at a local level. I hope they will use the information contained within this report to inform their thinking'.

The NICE guideline on fertility, which was updated last year, states that women aged 39 and under who have not conceived after two years of trying should be offered three full cycles of IVF. However, the report found that of the 198 CCGs that funded IVF, 24 percent offered two cycles of IVF and 49 percent offered only one. Others, such as Sutton and Merton in South London and four in North Yorkshire and York, do not offer any funding for IVF.

'It is now nearly ten years since the original NICE guideline was published and yet here we are... still facing a situation whereby the level of service is determined by postcode', said Ms Lewis-Jones.

Commenting on the report, Susan Seenan from Infertility Network UK said: 'It's not fair... Where you live shouldn't determine how much treatment you are allowed'.

Additionally, the report highlighted that many CCGs will not offer IVF to couples where one of them has had children from a previous relationship - something that is not stipulated in the NICE guideline - as well as if one smokes, is obese, or drinks even a moderate amount. The NICE guideline is not mandatory and CCGs are able to apply additional criteria for access to NHS-funded treatment. 

A report by the All Party Parliamentary Group on infertility in 2011 found that many primary care trusts did not offer the number of cycles recommended by NICE (see BioNews 611). In comparison to this report, NIAC says it is 'disappointing to see a distinct lack of progress'.

'This is despite the shift in focus towards clinician led, outcomes based commissioning which is enshrined in the NHS Outcomes Framework', the NIAC report states.

NIAC says it recommends that the Department of Health works with NHS England and NICE to produce a mandatory list of access criteria for IVF/ICSI treatment. 'This would finally end unfair and differing lists of criteria produced at a local level', it said.

27 October 2014 - by Sean Byrne 
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published a quality standard that aims to bring an end to a 'postcode lottery' in the provision of fertility services on the NHS, which it says is restricting access to treatment....
22 September 2014 - by Vicky Whitehead 
In the UK, clinical commissioners seem to view the national recommendations on fertility treatment as a sort of à-la-carte menu from which they can pick and choose; altering the definition of a cycle, the age requirements, the number of cycles available, and the access criteria at will...
11 August 2014 - by Ayesha Ahmad 
NHS bosses in York have been accused of backtracking on a promise to restart funding for IVF treatment, disappointing an estimated 110 couples requiring treatment in the area...
28 July 2014 - by Ruth Retassie 
Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group has proposed to limit access to IVF to cancer patients and HIV-positive men under its options for reform to the funding of its fertility services....
9 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....
12 August 2013 - by Ruth Retassie 
A fertility app has been launched that will help pay for treatment for women who are unable to conceive after ten months of using the program...
22 April 2013 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
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...
25 February 2013 - by Mark Johnson 
On 20 February 2013, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence published its new guideline on the assessment and treatment of couples with fertility problems...
25 February 2013 - by Michelle Downes 
Women over the age of 40, same-sex couples, and people with disabilities have been addressed for the first time in the updated NICE guideline on fertility treatment...
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.