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Some areas of England are cutting back on IVF fertility treatment to save money, a charity has said.
Fertility Network UK, which keeps watch on provision, says NHS access to IVF is worsening and is much different than that of Scotland, where women can receive three full cycles of NHS-funded treatment.
IVF treatment has been restricted or halted in 13 areas since January, and eight other parts of England are consulting on taking similar steps, the charity says.
An NHS England spokesman said Clinical Commissioning Groups had to ‘balance the demands on the NHS locally’.
Guidelines from NICE say the NHS should provide three full cycles of IVF treatment for women aged under 40 who have failed to get pregnant after two years. But the guidance, issued 13 years ago, are not binding, and it is up to local NHS providers to decide what to give patients.
GP-led groups in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire are proposing to restrict IVF to women aged between 30 and 35. Only those with ‘exceptional circumstances’ who are not between those ages would be considered for treatment on the NHS.
Since 2010, Wales has offered two rounds of IVF to eligible women.
An NHS England spokesperson said: “Ultimately these are decisions for Clinical Commissioning Groups, who are under an obligation to balance the various competing demands on the NHS locally while living within the budget parliament has allocated.”
Leceia Gordon-Mackenzie, deputy chief executive of Fertility Network UK, said: “To deny those affected medical help is a short-sighted and a false economy.
"England pioneered IVF approaching 40 years ago, but that achievement is meaningless if only those who can afford to pay for IVF benefit from it. The Clinical Commissioning Groups need to understand the devastating impact these cuts have and stop failing patients who are already devastated and vulnerable.”
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