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NHS postcode lotteries hampering fertility treatments

Are you and your partner struggling to have that longed for baby?

The health watchdog is warning that women across Britain are being denied fertility treatment because NHS trusts are trying to cut costs.

According to experts thousands of couples struggling to conceive are being subjected to “unfair postcode lotteries”, causing “widespread inequality”.

Fertility groups warn that many couples have to resort to costly private care because NHS provision is so patchy and hard to access.

Fewer than one in five commissioning groups are paying for the full number of IVF cycles recommended according to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at NICE, said:

“Infertility can have a potentially devastating effect on people’s lives – it can cause significant distress, depression and possibly lead to the breakdown of relationships.”

She added: “We understand that the NHS is under financial constraints, but fertility is a core NHS service.”

Under NHS guidelines couples who have failed to get pregnant are entitled to three full cycles of IVF treatment for women aged under 40, or 12 cycles of artificial insemination.

Is it fair that government “postcode lotteries” are hampering your dreams of becoming a parent?

Anna Bradley, chairwoman of Healthwatch England, said:

“Sadly, the so called ‘postcode lotteries’ created by the inconsistent decisions at local level is causing widespread inequality, resulting in unnecessary confusion and frustration for patients and their loved ones. Ultimately, this raises some very serious questions about whether NICE treatments should indeed be made mandatory.”

Currently NICE’s recommendations remain guidelines and it is up to the individual commissioning group what services they pay for in their area.

Image: Reuters/Michael Dalder

 

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