Postcode lottery on the availability of IVF
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Most primary care trusts are ignoring guidance on funding IVF treatment. A report by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Infertility has shown that 73% of primary care trusts (PCTs) deny couples access to three courses of IVF.
In 2004 the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) advised that three courses of IVF treatment should be provided for women between the ages of 23 and 39. However, many PCTs ignore their guidance and place arbitrary restrictions on the availability of IVF to couples based on their age, weight, and lifestyle choices.
For example, some Trusts only offer IVF treatment to women at a minimum age of 39. In Bury women are only offered IVF if they are 39 or 40. Five PCTs do not offer IVF at all; Warrington, North Yorkshire and York, Stockport, North Staffordshire and West Sussex.
PCTs are ignoring the provided guidelines or taking the guidelines out of context. They use money intended to fund IVF treatment elsewhere in order to neutralise the effect of budget cuts. The guidelines have never been fully implemented in the NHS, despite repeated reminders by the government. David Florey, the NHS deputy chief executive reminded trusts in January but there is no incentive for trusts to implement the guidelines since no sanctions are imposed for failure to do so.
Clare Lewis-Jones, CEO of the Infertility Network UK, has said, "It is totally unacceptable that some PCTs are still failing to fund fertility treatment for patients despite the Nice Fertility Guidance issued in 2004. Some PCTs which do fund treatment are only providing one fresh cycle and failing to fund frozen embryo transfers, with many others implementing restrictive access criteria which means eligible patients are denied access to treatment which would be available if they lived elsewhere."
The resulting post code means that whilst some couples will have full access to three courses of IVF treatment, other couples located nearby may have no access or very restricted access to treatment. Such blatant unfairness should not be allowed to continue
Pannone undertakes judicial review claims arising from disputes over access to medical care. This enables patients to challenge refusals to treat where the decision making process is flawed or contrary to the law.
If you wish to discuss a possible claim click here or call us free on 0800 0382 382. We are available to take your call twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.
To see the BBC’s coverage of this issue click here.
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