Women denied IVF as 80 per cent of NHS trusts ration fertility treatment

Sarah Knapton in the Telegraph 2nd October 2015 explains the truth: Women denied IVF as 80 per cent of NHS trusts ration fertility treatment – More than 80 per cent of NHS trusts are denying women three cycles of fertility treatment despite national guidelines

In a Regional Health Service with Post Code differences described as local prioritisation by the politicians and administrators, we the consumer know that the emperor really has no clothes, and that this is rationing. No legal argument if the health service is “patient centred” as the definition would then come from the patient. NHSreality believed it was China that first rationed the number children permitted to a woman, and even they have recently reversed their policy. (Mei Fong in The Guardian 1st November 2015: China’s brutal one-child policy shaped how millions lived, loved and died ) NHSreality would have liked to provide a map showing IVF commissioners, but the post-codes would change (reducing) so quickly it would be inaccurate virtually immediately.. (The NHS and ‘cradle to the grave’ )

Women are being denied the chance to become mothers because of IVF rationing on the NHS, a charity has warned.

Fewer than one in five areas of England are offering women three cycles of IVF despite recommendations by the health watchdogs.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) currently advises that all trusts should allow women under 40 three chances of becoming pregnant.

But new figures from the charity Fertility Fairness show just 18 per cent of trusts are complying with the regulations meaning more women than ever face being left childless. In Essex, both North East Essex and mid-Essex have cut NHS fertility services completely, except in exceptional medical cases, while Basildon and Brentwood are consulting on doing the same.

Fertility rationing appears to be getting worse in Britain. In 2013 nearly one quarter of trusts offered the full three cycles, a drop of six percent.

Susan Seenan, chief executive of leading patient fertility charity Infertility Network UK said: “Three full cycles of IVF offers the 1 in 6 couples struggling to become parents the best chance of success.

“This is what is recommended by the NICE guideline as being both clinically and cost-effective, and this is what all clinical commissioning groups should be offering.

“The pain and grief of fertility problems can also have severe social and economic consequences – leading to depression, social isolation and the breakdown of relationships. As with any other recognised medical condition; fertility problems are deserving of treatment.”

The new figures show that the north is the best place to live in England for accessing fertility services where trusts have come together to cut costs and offer three cycles.

Cheshire, Warrington, Wirral and Merseyside have formed the North West commissioning collaborative, while trusts from Cumbria through to Newcastle have joined forces in the North of England commissioning collaborative.

In contrast Essex and London are the worst places to live and some trusts have added extra restrictions such as not treating smokers, people with stepchildren or women over the age of 35.

Having IVF privately can cost around £5,000 per cycle, so many women cannot afford the cost. Many are now travelling abroad where the procedure is cheaper.

Sarah Norcross, chair of Fertility Fairness said: “Even with budget constraints, Cheshire, Warrington, Wirral and Merseyside have, over the last year, improved their fertility services, and commissioners in the North East have retained their excellent service.

“We want to encourage commissioners in the South, especially in Essex, to learn from these collaborative groups, to improve their provision and to end the NHS fertility treatment postcode lottery.”

Last year Nice issued new strengthened guidance calling for the NHS to provide three full cycles across the country, but most trusts have ignored the request.

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This entry was posted in A Personal View, Post Code Lottery, Rationing, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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