Fertility specialists say fertility services remain ‘patchy and partial’. NHS must act now to end inequity for infertile couples

26th January 2005

The British Fertility Society is delighted that infertility services in England and Wales will be debated in the House of Commons today and congratulates the National Infertility Awareness Campaign* (NIAC) and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Infertility (APPGI) on stimulating the discussion. It is an opportunity to review the progress that has been made in the implementation of the NICE recommendations.

The NICE Guideline on Fertility was launched in February 2004# and was heralded as a major breakthrough in the availability of NHS funded IVF treatment. It recommended that 3 IVF treatments should be provided for those who had at least a 10% chance of a baby with each treatment. John Reid stated that he wanted at least one cycle to be provided for these couples by April 2005.

One year later many patients have yet to see the benefit from this guideline. Implementation is patchy and partial. Some Primary Care Trusts have prepared detailed costed proposals to achieve not only the initial targets set by John Reid but further plans for full implementation. Other Primary Care Trusts have not even addressed the issue. The prospect of continuing inequity of provision and postcode lottery remains.

The British Fertility Society calls upon all Primary Care Trusts in England and Wales to act now to set out their plans for full implementation.

The British Fertility Society will continue to work with all stakeholders to ensure the inequities that infertility patients have suffered for far too long are finally removed.

Professor Alison Murdoch, Chair of the BFS said, “ We hope that this debate will draw attention to the plight of those who thought that NICE would bring them IVF treatment on the NHS but have so far been disappointed. The BFS is sharing experiences of the discussions their members have had with PCTs. We hope that this will show that the NHS can and must accept the government advice and give treatment to those who have already waited too long.


*The National Infertility Awareness Campaign (NIAC) is an umbrella organisation for over 30 organisations that have campaigned since 1993 for equality of NHS funding for infertility treatment, including Infertility Network UK (formerly CHILD and ISSUE), the British Fertility Society, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Association of Clinical Embryologists, the British Infertility Counselling Association and Relate.

#National Institute for Clinical Excellence
Fertility: assessment and treatment for people with fertility problems: http://www.nice.org.uk/page.aspx?o=CG011