10 Jun 2006

The British Fertility Society, representing over 800 clinicians, nurses, scientists, counsellors and others working in the field of Human Fertility has the following aims and objectives:

  • To promote high quality practice in the provision of fertility treatment.
  • To provide a common forum for members of various disciplines having an interest in the science and treatment of infertility.
  • To promote high quality scientific and clinical research in the causes and treatment of infertility.
  • To provide professional leadership in the provision and regulation of infertility services.
  • To promote the increase of NHS funding for, and equity of access to, fertility treatments.

The Society has long sought to improve the provision of care for those one in seven individuals in the United Kingdom dealing with the burden of infertility. Medical advances in fertility care, particularly in the last 10 – 15 years have resulted in many couples’ dreams of family being realised. Now in the UK nearly 8000 live births result each year as a consequence of IVF care.

Despite these advances key issues remain of concern to our members and the patients whom we serve:

Access to treatment

  • Access to investigation and treatment of infertility in the UK is patchy with lack of uniformity of PCT implementation of the NICE Guidelines endorsed by the government in 2004.
    In the United Kingdom, the NHS funds only 25% of IVF cycles. Too many patients have to fund treatment themselves and many patients cannot access treatment because it is too expensive for them. The state should fund 3 cycles of IVF for the infertile as directed by the Secretary of State for Health in 2004.
  • 1% of all births in the UK are now a consequence of IVF treatment. This figure lags behind most of Europe. Inadequate resources deny many the opportunity to access effective treatment at an appropriate time.

Multiple pregnancy rates

  • Multiple pregnancy rates with IVF (23.6%) are too high. Clinics, the regulatory authority and commissioners of treatment should promote single embryo transfer policies in appropriately selected patients.

Patient care

  • Clinics must ensure that the patient, at all times, is central to the provision of services. Personalised care should be provided which is sensitive to the needs of individuals. Clinic resources should also provide for the care of those who emerge unsuccessful from treatment.

Gamete donation

  • The level of gamete donation services is variable, but mostly poor, throughout the country. The reasons for this are complex, but many clinics now are unable to allocate resources to facilitate recruitment.
  • A few centres in the UK have been able to continue to recruit sperm donors and are in a position to export sperm to other clinics. Some clinics, however, are now unable to obtain samples from their suppliers.
  • As a consequence several clinics have now suspended sperm donation services, and many of those still providing care have long waiting times for increasingly expensive treatment.
    Gamete donor recruitment should be resourced and organised on a national basis, as exists for example with blood transfusion and organ donation services.

The British Fertility Society is delighted to be associated with National Infertility Day and continues, with its sister organisations, to engage with politicians, the Dept of Health and the HFEA in promoting the welfare of the estimated 1.75 million couples in the United Kingdom with infertility problems.

Dr Mark Hamilton (Chair)
Dept of Obstetrics & Gynaecology
Aberdeen Maternity Hospital
Foresterhill
Aberdeen AB25 2ZL
m.hamilton@abdn.ac.uk