Louisa Ghevaert joined Matt Faulkener’s BBC Radio Somerset Breakfast Show to debate the problems associated with accessing free IVF fertility treatment on the NHS.
All three local PCT’s in Somerset are ignoring government guidelines on how many cycles of IVF should be offered to couples free on the NHS, a picture which is mirrored across the country. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) says that PCT’s should offer infertile couples three attempts free on the NHS. Local PCT’s in Somerset are only offering one or two free cycles of IVF on the NHS, whilst nationally 73% of PCT’s offer less than three cycles and 39% of PCT’s only offer one free cycle of IVF.
The Prime Minister recently joined the chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Infertility (APPG), Gareth Johnson MP, in calling for all Primary Care Trusts (PCT’s) to follow the NICE Guidelines and offer fertility patients three cycles of free IVF treatment on the NHS. The APPG report uncovered that there are wide variations across the country. For example in North Somerset PCT, infertile couples where the woman is aged 23-39 are eligible for one free IVF cycle on the NHS, whilst in Dorset infertile couples are eligible for two cycles but only if the woman is aged 30-35, whilst in Hampshire infertile couples are only eligible for one cycle if the woman is aged 30-34. Five PCT’s were highlighted in the APPG report as not offering treatment at all, including North Yorkshire, North Staffordshire and West Sussex.
Private fertility treatment typically costs £4,000 – £8,000 per cycle in the UK depending upon the specific treatment involved. The IVF postcode lottery and differing IVF funding policies from PCT to PCT can cause immeasurable pain and heartache for fertility patients when faced with the stark reality that they will not be offered the recommended three free IVF cycles on the NHS or worse still none at all.
If you are experiencing problems accessing free IVF fertility treatment through your local PCT, contact The Infertility Network UK for free help and support.