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IVF care guidelines not followed by PCTs

A Department of Health (DoH) survey has found that a number of NHS Primary Care Trusts (PCT) in England are not following government guidance to fund a first round of IVF treatment.

A Department of Health (DoH) survey has found that a number of NHS Primary Care Trusts (PCT) in England are not following government guidance to fund a first round of IVF treatment.

In addition, less than 50 per cent of NHS trusts funded the freezing and storage of extra embryos created in the laboratory during treatment, while also refusing implantation if required by patients.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) ruled in 2004 that IVF should be free to all women aged less than 40 for the first full round of treatment, but the survey discovered that a number of patients were being denied IVF completely.

UK Health Minister, Dawn Primarolo, released the survey results in a letter to PCTs, which fund NHS treatment. The Minister also identified continuing wide variations in the provision of IVF treatment across England.

The IVF survey showed that PCTs demonstrated confusion regarding the implementation of NICE guidance and had very different criteria identifying those couples eligible for IVF.

The DoH and the charity Infertility Network UK have worked together to develop standardised rules on access for IVF, while the UK government announced in July 2007 it would be monitoring fertility treatment provision across the country.

A recent all-party committee of MPs concluded that IVF remains a low priority for many NHS trusts.

The difference in IVF provision across the country was initially identified by Conservative MP Grant Shapps, who was alarmed to see the extent to which PCTs varied in their level of treatment.

Clare Brown, CEO of Infertility Network UK, said the survey findings were unacceptable and that to create something as special as an embryo on the NHS but only allow it to be transferred based on the ability to pay was wrong.
imals.

6th August 2007

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