Some UK health trusts refusing to fund IVF
Dr. Kirsty Horsey
Progress Educational Trust23 July 2005
Despite government promises to end the 'postcode lottery' of the provision of fertility treatment in the UK, ten primary care trusts (PCTs) of the UK's National Health Service (NHS) have said they will refuse to fund IVF treatments at present.
The ten PCTs, all in the county of Hampshire, said that they had limited funding and that IVF has to be a 'low priority'. The decision was taken after a series of group meetings, after which the PCTs were left to make their own individual decisions based on other guidance and legal advice. A spokeswoman for two of the PCTs said that treatment would be offered as and where funds actually became available, adding that 'the decision was not taken lightly and was absolutely necessary to ensure we have sufficient funds to invest in other important areas of care'. Funding will continue for those couples who have already started their treatment in the county.
In February 2004, the then health secretary, Sir John Reid, announced that all infertile couples fitting certain criteria should be given one free cycle of IVF on the NHS from April 2005, with a view to increasing provision further. Prior to his announcement, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) had issued guidelines stating that three cycles of IVF should be offered to all infertile couples.
Fertility campaigners say they are 'dismayed' by the PCTs' decision. Clare Brown, chair of the National Infertility Awareness Campaign (NIAC), said that many infertile couples would be 'let down' by the Hampshire PCTs' announcement. She said that couples had been given 'some hope' by the government's 2004 announcement, and said that NIAC 'would urge the PCTs to reassess their decision as a matter of urgency and allow patients access to the treatment they deserve'. She added: 'I would urge the government to act now to reassure patients across the country that they will not be denied access to the treatments they have been promised'.
Reproduced with permission from BioNews, an email and online sources of news, information and comment on assisted reproduction and genetics.