Dr Simon Fishel: “We were promised three cycles of IVF nationwide”

IVF pioneer Dr Simon Fishel has expressed his dismay and disappointment with the current state of IVF provision in the UK

Dr Fishel, who worked alongside IVF founding fathers, Sir Robert Edwards and Patrick Steptoe in the early stages of their work, said he feels there should be a national tariff for IVF provision.

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines state women under 40 should be offered three cycles of IVF on the NHS if they have failed to get pregnant after two years.

But increasingly over the past 18 months, Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) across the UK have had to make the difficult decision to find areas where they can save money due to budget cuts and IVF has been hit hard.

For the first time ever, there are areas of the UK that people will have no access to fertility treatment, Essex being the worst affected area.

Other CCGs have reduced and restricted their funding, offering one IVF cycle with strict criteria for eligibility.

This has incensed many and left people struggling with not only coming to terms with their diagnosis, but also having to face the possibility that they can’t afford to have their dream of becoming a family a reality due to the high costs involved.

Dr Fishel told iNews: “I would not have envisioned this all those years ago. We (were promised) three cycles of IVF nationwide. It was not going to be a postcode lottery. We should have a national tariff and a national consistent programme for funding.”

“And that would have been my dream. At least everybody gets one cycle, if not three. That it’s all done fairly, that whatever happens, it’s done nationally,” he said. “[The NHS has] caused angst and despair amongst practitioners and patients alike because of the way it has operated.”

Our partner, leading charity Fertility Network UK agrees with Dr Fishels and comments.

Chief executive, Aileen Feeney said: “In July, we will be celebrating 40 years of IVF, a life-changing technology pioneered in England which has led to the birth of 6.5million babies around the world.

“However, that achievement means far less if only those who can afford private IVF benefit. The scale of disinvestment in NHS fertility services is at its worst since the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence introduced national fertility guidelines in 2004.

“Only 12 per cent of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) offer the recommended three full IVF cycles to eligible women under 40, and just 2 per cent of CCGs offer the IVF Gold Standard – three full IVF cycles plus access if one of the couple has a child from a previous relationship. The Government should be ashamed that, after 40 years of IVF, it is your postcode and your pay packet, and not your medical need, which are the key determinants of whether you will be able to try IVF.”

To sign a petition we have launched with Fertility Network UK against this unfair inequality of IVF treatment across the UK, click here

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