The number of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in England that offer the recommended 3 IVF cycles to eligible women under 40 has halved in the last 5 years, according to latest figures released by Fertility Fairness.
Only 12% follow national guidance, down from 24% in 2013. In contrast, the number of CCGs which have removed NHS IVF has almost doubled in the last year.
The audit of 208 CCGs also reveals the number offering just one NHS-funded IVF cycle which has risen to 61% from 49% in 2013). There are now 7 CCGs that have removed NHS IVF. In 2015, the number of CCGs offering 0 cycles lay at 1 per cent, since then this figure has tripled. 7% of CCGs are currently consulting on removing or reducing NHS fertility treatment. In addition, a league table of 17 ranked positions, so patients can see how their CCG compares to the rest of the country.
Commenting in response, Professor Lesley Regan, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said:
“These figures are shocking and it’s very disappointing to see even fewer CCGs following NICE guidance and providing full access to NHS fertility treatment. Current access to treatment is a postcode lottery and these health inequalities people face are unacceptable.
“Infertility can have a devastating effect on people's lives, causing distress, depression, and the breakdown of relationships. IVF treatment is cost-effective and should be available on the NHS.
“The RCOG committed to working with UK commissioners and healthcare providers to support them in following NICE Fertility Guidelines. Scotland is leading the way with offering 3 cycles of IVF for all couples even when one already has children from a previous relationship. England needs to follow suit urgently and help people plan a family who have fertility problems, a condition with affects one in seven couples.”
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The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is a medical charity that champions the provision of high quality women’s healthcare in the UK and beyond. It is dedicated to encouraging the study and advancing the science and practice of obstetrics and gynaecology. It does this through postgraduate medical education and training and the publication of clinical guidelines and reports on aspects of the specialty and service provision.