The IVF Post Code Lottery – NHS Treatment Availability
Due to the overwhelming demand in the NHS and an extremely stretched budget, some CCGs (Clinical Commissioning Groups) across the UK, who decide how to allocate the funds they have available for healthcare across a region, are making the difficult decision to reduce or even completely stop the provision of fertility treatments. They are also imposing new restrictions on who can access IVF treatments which are outside The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines.
We are already more than aware that the NHS is unfortunately not equipped to help everybody in need of fertility treatment and already have criteria in place to funnel who can be considered and who can’t. These criteria are mainly based on the female partners age, smoking status, BMI and sometimes whether yourself or your partner have children already (along with other factors).
More barriers to IVF funding
Now CCGs are introducing more barriers to entry for NHS IVF access including capping the age limit of the male partner, taking into account the male partner’s BMI, looking at AMH (Anti Mullerian Hormone levels) and / or AFC (antral follicle count) in women. Clinicians have argued that this is not acceptable as these are not a part of the NICE guidance for IVF treatment. The restrictions on the male partner in particular, seem unjust to clinicians as there is no strong evidence that either of these criteria have an impact on the clinical outcome. With regards to AMH and AFC levels, these are used in NICE guidelines as a predictor of ovarian response, but it seems that some CCGs are using it as a predictor of the chance of having a baby through IVF and utilising the results to see who can access NHS funded treatment and who can’t.
NICE guidelines (https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg156/ifp/chapter/in-vitro-fertilisation) recommend that IVF should be offered to women under the age of 43 years old, who have been trying to get pregnant through regular unprotected sex for two years or who have had 12 cycles of artificial insemination. The recommendations are that up to three cycles of IVF should be funded, dependent on age, however this is rarely the case across CCGs and the vast majority do not / can not adhere to these recommendations. In fact, only 13% of CCGs offer the full recommended three cycles of IVF treatment but for how much longer this will continue, is unclear. More worryingly is that in some areas, they no longer fund any IVF treatment whatsoever. This is what is termed the “IVF postcode lottery” due to the fact that what you are eligible for is very much dependent on which CCG you fall under as it is ultimately the CCGs decision which level of IVF treatment they choose to fund.
60% of IVF now funded privately
According to The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), 6 out of 10 IVF cycles performed in the UK are now funded privately and this is where Assured Fertility can help. Assured Fertility provide a full money back guarantee on IVF treatment, so if you do not achieve a live birth, we will refund you 100% of your money. We also offer low monthly payment plans starting from £299.28 per month* (subject to credit check and status). So we make IVF treatment more readily available and affordable to those that fall foul of the postcode lottery.