British Fertility Society welcomes NICE publication of Quality Standards report calling for end to IVF postcode lottery

The British Fertility Society (BFS) welcomes the publication of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) Quality Standards report on fertility treatment, which calls for the NHS to make three full cycles of IVF available to all in England who need it.

This is the strongest call yet for commissioners to end the postcode lottery of NHS funding for fertility treatments such as IVF, which results in healthcare inequalities across the country. The BFS urges those making such decisions to take the NICE guidelines on board and do so without invoking other discriminatory exclusion criteria.

The Quality Standards report also identified other areas where improvements in fertility care and services are most needed, such as GPs referring couples for specialist consultation in a more timely manner and the provision of adequate fertility preservation services for those people who are about to undergo treatment for cancer. The BFS calls for all UK commissioners and healthcare providers to follow the new Quality Standards and fully implement the 2013 NICE Fertility Guidelines without delay.

British Fertility Society Chairman Allan Pacey said:

“During my time as the BFS Chairman, it is disappointing to see to see that there has been no improvement in the funding available for assisted conception services in England. Some areas such as Mid Essex are worse off now compared to a few years ago, suffering from reduced or even complete withdrawal of funding. By cherry-picking aspects of guidelines to fund services of their choice, local commissioners fly in the face of what NICE is all about. Their guidelines must be taken as a whole if we are to deliver the best and most cost-effective use of NHS resources.”

British Fertility Society Secretary Jane Stewart added:

“For the inclusion of appropriate and equitable funding as a quality standard, we should applaud NICE for giving the first truly direct national steer to commissioners on this important issue.”