NHS asked to offer more IVF

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The health watchdog has asked NHS managers to stop the refusal of IVF treatment for women as it has a devastating effect on their lives. This has prompted The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to issue new guidance related to this matter.

Females under the age of 40 who are unable to conceive naturally are supposed to be offered three NHS IVF courses, and those aged between 40 and 42, one treatment. Figures indicate that around 75% of 211 GP-led bodies do not adhere to these rules, including six that do not offer this type of treatment at all.

NICE have also stipulated that trusts should not refuse treatment to women whose partners have children from previous relationships.

The Deputy Chief Executive of NICE, Professor Gillian Leng, stated that infertility is a recognised medical condition that may affect anyone and it could have a potentially devastating effect on those affected. It may cause depression, distress, and could lead to the breakdown of relationships.

She said that the institute is aware that their guidance is not being adhered to and this creates differences in treatment options within the NHS.

The new rules issued a reminder to organisations to offer those suffering from cancer and other conditions requiring chemotherapy the option to have their eggs frozen prior to the commencement of therapy which may result in them becoming infertile.

The first issue of guidelines requesting three NHS fertility treatments was done during 2004, however, ten years later most trust are still not complying. Last month, a 25-year old was refused the procedure by her trust in Kent as it did not agree with the policy. She suffers from a form of Crohn’s disease and is due to undergo a bone marrow transplant which requires chemotherapy. The treatments may trigger an early menopause.

Since the guidelines are not classified as law, the Clinical Commissioning Groups are able to draft their own policies linked to their budgets. IVF costs around £3500 per treatment which makes managers reluctant to fund three treatments.

Commons leader and the former health secretary, Andrew Lansley, stated that CCGs had the responsibility to conform to the guidelines set by NICE, even if they were not law.

Image Credit: Nina Matthews

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