IVF NHS crisis, Labour MP Steve McCabe introduces fertility fairness bill to House of Commons

Labour MP for Birmingham Selly Oak, Steve McCabe, has introduced a ten-minute bill to parliament on people getting fairer access to fertility treatment on the NHS

The bill, which was heard in the House of Commons on Wednesday, April 18, moves to regulate access equality across the UK, pricing of IVF and the minimum number of cycle treatments to women on the basis of their age.

Mr McCabe told the house he had first become aware of the ‘unequal nature’ of IVF in 2016, when he had been contacted by constituents who had been refused treatment.

He said, “As I looked at the situation, I found that the provision of fertility services in England varied considerably, and that the number of CCGs restricting or completely decommissioning their services had increased dramatically since 2014. I am left wondering how it can be right that people in Thurrock and Luton – good luck to them – have access to comprehensive fertility services while my constituents and many others get a much poorer deal because of where they live.”

NHS IVF postcode lottery

So far, seven clinical commissioning groups(CCGs) have stopped their NHS IVF services, with just four in the UK following the National Institute for Clinical Excellence(NICE) guidelines of three full IVF cycles.

Mr McCabe told the house he fully understood that the NHS was stretched, but this seemed even more of a reason for insisting on a more ‘consistent and cost-effective’ approach’.

“The World Health Organisation is clear in classifying infertility as ‘a disease of the reproductive system'”

“…but we are hardly treating it like other medical conditions. We should not be rationing it in this way. We need to take steps to address poor clinical decisions and the injustice that results from unequal access,” he said.

Mr McCabe’s bill would eliminate regional variations of IVF treatment – with cycles across the UK ranging from £1,300 to £7,000 – offering the development of a national pricing criteria.

He said the bill enjoyed cross-party support and he wanted to thank his colleagues, constituents, campaigners, in particular Fertility Fairness and Fertility Network UK, along with all the couples who, he said, had helped him understand how unjust the current system is.

Aileen Feeney, chief executive of leading patient charity Fertility Network UK, said: “Fertility Network UK wholeheartedly supports Steve McCabe MP’s call for the Government to treat infertility like any other illness and provide access to NHS fertility equitably across the UK.

“England’s NHS fertility services are being decimated: in the last 16 months, more than one in ten of England’s clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) have cut or removed NHS IVF and a further one in ten are currently consulting on doing so; it is a national disgrace.

“Access to fertility treatment should be dependent on your medical need – and not your postcode and pay packet. The UK pioneered IVF 40 years ago but that achievement literally means nothing if only those who can afford to pay for fertility treatment benefit from it. Now is the time to #makeIVFfair.”

The bill will be read for a second time on Friday, November 23, 2018.

If you would like to support Mr McCabe in his campaign for fairer access to fertility services, you can contact him via his email, mcacabes@parliament.uk

To read the full transcript of the bill reading, click here.

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