In the week that recognises the work of British IVF pioneer Robert Edwards through the Nobel prize for medicine, Gareth Johnson raised his concerns at Commons question time about his fears that some PCTs have suspended their IVF provision.
Mr Johnson said: “ In the absence of an In-Vitro Fertilisation group I decided that I should set up and an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) that caters for couples who suffer from infertility. The group will take evidence from interested parties and act on these findings and considerations when voting in Parliament or amending legislation. It will also act as a mouthpiece whenever this issue is raised and will apply pressure on the Department of Health and Local Primary Care Trusts where needed.
“There is no voice for infertile couples within Parliament and I hope to have the Secretary of State for Health at our inaugural meeting. This is an important issue as the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, the body that oversees the purchase of treatments, has stated that infertile couples should have three courses of treatment but in some areas it is a post code lottery. West Kent PCT has decreed that to save money they are suspending the funding of such treatment. I disagree with this decision and I am pleased that the Secretary of State has urged PCTs like West Kent to reconsider their decision to suspend IVF provision.”
“I am pleased that the Government recognises the significant distress and impact that infertility has on people’s lives and that it should be treated as a medical need”.
Gareth Johnson has also tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament on this issue. EDM 1136: http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=42144&SESSION=905
The NIAC (National Infertility Awareness Campaign) will provide the secretariat for the APPG and will have its official launch in the New Year.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has expressed concern over the temporary suspension of fertility treatment by some PCT trusts due to “funding problems”.
Mr Lansley urged primary care trusts (PCTs) to take note of guidelines recommending that infertile women are entitled to three cycles of IVF treatment on the NHS.
At Commons question time, he told MPs: “Many PCTs have made good progress towards meeting Nice (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) guidance recommendations on the provision of IVF treatment.
“However, I am aware that a small number of PCTs with historical funding problems have temporarily suspended local NHS provision of IVF.
“I have already expressed my concerns about this approach. I expect all PCTs to have regard to the current Nice guidance and fully recognise the significant distress and impact that infertility has on people’s lives.”
Cost: Each treatment can cost up to £5000
The Government’s line on this issue below;
The local NHS decides on the funding of fertility treatments such as IVF. They make these decisions based on the health priorities of their local population.
In 2004, NICE recommended that the NHS provides up to three cycles of IVF for eligible couples. They are currently reviewing these guidelines and will report back at the end of 2012.
We would encourage all PCTs to take account of the NICE guidelines on infertility treatment and recognise the significant distress and impact that infertility can have on individuals.