Funding For Fertility
NHS funding for fertility treatment varies enormously across the UK. It’s distressing enough facing fertility problems, and it can be even more difficult if you find you are unable to access the treatment you should be entitled to.
Below is a summary of the current NHS provision across the country together with some template letters on how to appeal and enlist the support of your local member of parliament if you think you have been unfairly denied access to NHS treatment. In England in particular, access to NHS treatment depends on criteria set by individual CCGs, and you can find out whether you fit the criteria in your area by visiting our CCG Funding Details page. And if you need more help or information please view our Frequently Asked Questions or just email us.
England - a 'Post Code' lottery!The situation in England unfortunately varies according to your postcode! The updated NICE Clinical Fertility Guideline published on the 20th February 2013 recommends that women aged up to and including 39 should access three full cycles of IVF treatment; it also recommends that for women aged between 40 and 42 who have never had IVF treatment and who do not have a low ovarian reserve should be able to access one full cycle of IVF. However in reality this is only a guideline and is not mandatory in England. NHS commissioners are free to set their own local priorities and with the abolition of PCTs and the move to Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in April 2013, it is proving difficult to confirm exactly what the NHS provision currently is. The updated NICE Guidance can be found by using this link. Between 2006 and 2012 Infertility Network UK also undertook a project to determine the variations in provision of NHS treatment and surveyed the PCTs to see what was provided in each area and the final report along with our recommendations to commissioners can be viewed here.
In Wales, two full cycles are offered, but waiting lists are lengthy due to the lack of clinics approved by the Welsh Government to provide NHS treatment.
The document viewed here has been developed as the policy for the planning of Specialist Fertility Services for Welsh patients. The policy applies to residents of all seven Health Boards in Wales.
The purpose of this document is to:
in May 2013 the Scottish Government approved the recommendations made by the National Infertility Group in Scotland with some modifications. For the first time all 14 Health Boards now have to follow standard access crtieria and the Government has also committed to achieving a maximum waiting time of 12 months by 2015.
As stated in the report the National Infertility Group recognises that 3 full cycles of IVF gives patients the optimum chance of a live birth and the group remains committed to the implementation of this criterion across Scotland. The recommendation made is that eligible patients may be offered up to 3 cycles of IVF/ICSI where there is a reasonable expectation of a live birth. Clinical judgement should be used to determine this.
However, until equity and reasonable waiting times are established across Scotland and the implications of new pathways and new definitions are understood, the Groups recommendation is to constrain this up to 2 cycles IVF/ICSI where there is a reasonable expectation of a live birth. Clinical judgement should be used to determine this. A short review will take place in eearly 2015 at the latest and we hope by then that the recommendation for three full cycles will be implemented.
The full report can be read at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0042/00421950.pdf
In Northern Ireland the Health and Social Care Board (HSC) are responsible for comissioning of fertility services. A motion calling for the HSC to provide three full cycles of treatment has been approved in principle, but in reality additional finance needs to be made available to make this a reality. Current NHS provision offers one fresh cycle and one frozen embryo transfer to those eligible for treatment.
You can use the links below to download and personalise our template letters to appeal if you think you have been unfairly denied access to NHS treatment. You can find your CCG and find out how to contact your MP on these websites. You may also find our document 'Finding Your Local Fertility Policy' helpful