British Fertility Society response to a column arguing that the NHS should not fund IVF treatments

On 16 May 2011 an article in The Daily Telegraph argued against the provision of IVF treatment on the NHS. The British Fertility Society responded in a letter to the Editor, which is reproduced below:

18 May 2011

SIR – The British Fertility Society was extremely disappointed to read Max Pemberton’s column arguing against the provision of IVF on the NHS (Finger on the Pulse, 16 May 2011).

Dr Pemberton’s definition of infertility as “a social condition that has been recast as a disease” is completely contradicted by most professional organisations, including the World Health Organisation and the Department of Health, which recognise infertility as a physical illness. Although not directly life threatening, infertility causes patients considerable distress and can lead to significant psychological harm. We are astonished that a junior doctor would fail to recognise what most would regard as a fundamental right: that of bearing a family.

We are pleased that the NHS shares the consensus definition of infertility as a physical illness, and we urge all Primary Care Trusts to provide eligible patients with access to the full three cycles of IVF treatment, in line with the evidence-based recommendations from the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence.

Yours sincerely

Alison McTavish
Honorary Secretary, British Fertility Society