City IVF couples get one chance to have a baby

editorial image

INFERTILE couples in Sheffield desperate to have a child receive just one cycle of IVF on the NHS – against a recommended maximum of three.

A postcode lottery for fertility treatment in South Yorkshire sees the NHS in Rotherham, Doncaster and Barnsley fund two cycles of treatment.

One in seven couples in the UK suffer from infertility problems and Government guidelines introduced seven years ago say health trusts should pay for three attempts if the woman is between 23 and 39.

The latest figures have been revealed as part of a damning report from a cross-party group of MPs which found 73% of NHS trusts are ignoring the guidance of the National Institute of Clinical Excellence.

The document, produced by the All Party Parliamentary Group or APPG on Infertility, also highlighted five trusts which offer no IVF at all. It found that many worked to strict criteria on age, weight, smoking and whether one partner already had a child – regardless of whether they had contact – although there were no rules on alcohol and caffeine consumption, factors known to play a role in fertility.

The report said the criteria revealed that the NICE guidelines had been “taken out of context by PCTs and used to place arbitrary restrictions on the provision of IVF.”

A spokeswoman for NHS Sheffield said they were not currently in a position to fund three cycles.

She added: “It is our aim to implement NICE guidance fully and therefore offer three IVF cycles per couple – however this is dependent on available finances.

“Currently, because of the need to meet many resource and service requirements, NHS Sheffield is not in a position to offer three.

“People who do not meet the eligibility criteria may still be referred by their GP to be considered as an exceptional case.”

A spokesman for the Yorkshire and Humber Specialised Commissioning Group, who carried out a review into IVF services across the region last year, said: “The current economic climate demands that PCTs make difficult decisions regarding priority and efficiencies.”

But Gareth Johnson, chairman of the APPG on Infertility, said: “IVF is the creation of life and gives hope to thousands of infertile couples across the UK. IVF treatment was invented in Britain and so, more than any other country, we should be championing its use.”