Recent study showed 80% of CCGs fail to fund the recommended three full cycles of IVF

A recent study showed that out of all IVF procedures that took place in London in 2017, fewer than one quarter was funded by the NHS

NHS funded IVF numbers have consistently fallen across the entirety of England, with the number of babies born this way falling by 1700 in just one year.

The most recent HFEA Fertility Trends report shows that the NHS in London funded only 27 per cent of IVF treatments

One might assume that this is down to a decrease in NHS funding across the UK, but looking at Scotland, this just isn’t the case. In fact, more than 60% of all fertility treatments in Scotland were funded by the NHS.

That’s because the funding for fertility treatments is controlled not by NHS England or NHS Scotland, but by local clinical commissioning groups (CCGs). While they are meant to follow NHS guidance to offer three free cycles to all women under the age of 40, they “routinely ignore” the advice.

This news has greatly disappointed healthcare professionals

Professor Adam Balen, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists spokesman on reproductive medicine says:

“In 2018 in Scotland, 60 per cent of treatment was NHS-funded, compared to 45 per cent in Northern Ireland, 41 per cent in Wales and 35 per cent in England. In England, many CCGs have reduced funding for fertility treatment and, as a result, the share of IVF cycles funded by the NHS has declined across most regions. IVF is seen to be an easy target.”

“But infertility is a serious medical condition, resulting in huge stress and distress and caused itself by a large number of different medical problems.”

However, NHS Scotland treats infertility like the health crisis that it is, and take the gold standard of three NHS funded cycles of IVF treatment very seriously

Contrasted with NHS England, the chasm could not be more glaring. A shocking 80% of CCGs fail to fund the recommended three full cycles of IVF.

When they do get a referral for NHS-funded treatment, couples and individuals waiting for NHS-funded IVF in England face incredibly long waitlists, sometimes over a year

A recent HuffPost UK investigation about the IVF postcode lottery found some shocking trends. In some parts of the country, women as young as 35 are being turned away for being ‘too old.’  Others are being denied by their local CCG for having a BMI slightly above 30, being single, or because their partner has a child from a previous relationship.

Of course, the Covid-19 pandemic has forced all couples across the UK to wait much longer for their vital fertility treatments

While treatments in private clinics have resumed since the May 11 HFEA announcement green-lighting IVF and IUI, the NHS is still lagging.

For instance, as of July 10, there are still NHS hospitals in London that have not resumed any treatments. This leaves patients high and dry and wondering when their journey will start or continue. It’s an agonising wait for all involved.

What do you think about the discrepancy between NHS England and NHS Scotland? Have you experienced any of the situations above? We would love to hear your story at or on social @ivfbabble

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