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Same-sex couples and women aged up to 42 may soon be eligible for IVF treatment, according to new draft guidelines published today. The proposals were issued by the National Institute for health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and featured prominently in the news, although they also include a range of recommendations not covered by the media.
IVF treatment is now to be given free on the NHS to gay couples and women over 40, for the first time under new Government guidelines.
Fertility clinics are charging women who want to have children three times the actual cost of their treatment – with the NHS as guilty as private practitioners in exploiting desperate couples.
The accusation comes from the fertility pioneer Lord Robert Winston, who today launches a scathing attack on the high cost of fertility treatment in the UK and the unfettered use of expensive, unproven tests by private clinics.
The number of people accessing fertility treatments such as IVF and ICSI has risen in the UK by almost six percent in the past year.
Statistics released by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HEFA) revealed the number of fertility cycles carried out in 2010 stood at 57,652 – a 5.9 percent increase on treatments in 2009. It was also found that the age of women having such treatments is rising; within the last 20 years it has increased by 18 months.
Every year, thousands of desperate couples sacrifice their time, emotions and hard-earned cash in pursuit of their dream baby. The average IVF spend is £5,000, with some couples forking out up to £40,000 for a child that might never arrive. Almost 40,000 women had IVF treatment in the UK in 2008.
Two thirds of women would consider moving house to access IVF on the NHS, according to research.
Many have suffered fertility problems or know someone who has, while others have experienced depression and financial issues as a result of infertility, it found. While Scottish care trusts fund three fertility cycles, English PCTs decide on case-by-case bases about supporting treatments, leaving many patients struggling to access the IVF they need to conceive.
Couples are being told their IVF treatment is being suspended or axed completely as NHS trusts battle to cut costs, it emerged today. Primary care trusts are also making patients wait months longer for common operations in an attempt to slash their budgets.
A shortage of funding has hit thousands of patients waiting for operations such as hip and knee operations. NHS trusts are planing to save £20billion by 2014 to cope with an aging population, and overall health funding is receiving limited increases.