Cuts to IVF in the UK

Published on 30 Nov

Cuts to In Vitro Fertility (IVF) treatments are being made across the UK, with 4 areas now offering no funding for IVF treatment and only 125 areas offering one funded IVF cycle.

GP-led groups in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire have proposed limiting the age of women who can undergo IVF treatment to 30-35 years of age.

This goes against the National institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) who have recommended that the NHS should offer 3 funded cycles of IVF for women under the age of 40 who have been trying to conceive a child for the last 2 years yet have failed. However, this recommendation is not binding and the decision is down to local NHS providers.

Despite this recommendation, the percentage of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) providing three funded cycles of IVF has decreased from 24% in 2013 to 16% in 2016, according to Fertility Fairness. This has resulted in a ‘postcode lottery’, as many regions now differ in their funding for IVF.

According to the NHS, 1 in 7 couples are effected by infertility, making them unable to conceive a child naturally. Without NHS funding, these couples are being denied a chance to start a family through no fault of their own.

In todays society, the age at which women begin to start a family is increasing and many women wait until their 30s to try to start a family. This action could have devastating psychological impacts on women if they then experience the upset of infertility and do not meet the criterion to undergo NHS funded IVF.

Privately, the collection and freezing of eggs alone can cost up to £5000, with the additional costs of storage ranging from £150-£400. Furthermore it can cost £5000 or more per cycle of IVF. This is a high price to pay to start a family and is one that many couples may not be able to afford.

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