Steve McCabe MP has joined up with Infertility Network UK and Fertility Fairness, calling on the government to equalise access to IVF treatment for all women across the UK.
Steve first raised the problem of unfair access to fertility across the UK with the government after hearing from a number of his constituents who have been denied access to NHS funded IVF treatment because their partners have children from previous relationships. The women who contacted Steve met the age criteria and fit the wider criteria but were told they wouldn’t qualify even though they had no children themselves.
After raising this issue with Birmingham South Central CCG, they confirmed that this criteria applies to all 8 CCGs across Birmingham and the Black Country. Steve learnt that this is not just a problem for women in the Midlands but across England and has now joined up with Infertility Network UK and Fertility Fairness to call on the Government to equalize access to IVF treatment for all women.
The leading fertility charities support women struggling to conceive and are campaigning for an end to the postcode lottery and an equalisation of the fertility treatment eligibility criteria across the UK due to a number of discrepancies including:
· Many CCGs refusing treatment on the grounds of a partner having children from another relationship, this varies across the country
· Certain CCGs only offering one fresh cycle of IVF and as a result not using all of the eggs produced in that particular cycle – undermining the NICE clinical and cost effectiveness guidance
· Access to IVF services in Scotland, Wales and N.I. is standardised across each country, but not in England
After meeting with the fertility charities, Steve has raised the issue of unequal access with Jane Ellison MP, former Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Department of Health and NHS England’s National Clinical Director for Maternity Review and Women’s Health calling for both to:
· Increase awareness of the issue and the failings of CCGs to meet NICE guidelines
· Eliminate the postcode lottery through centralised IVF service policy
· End wide price disparity in IVF costs through centralised commissioning of services
At present, the IVF eligibility criteria varies depending on which CCG you come under, meaning in one part of the country you could be eligible but another you are not.
Steve McCabe MP said:
“It’s not fair that eligibility for IVF treatment depends on where you live. In this day and age family life is often complicated and to deny someone access to IVF because their partner has children from a previous relationship does not seem right to me. Under the current system, it appears that the government and the NHS have imposed what seems like a moral judgement on women who are with men who have children from a previous relationship.
“I’m also concerned about the cost effectiveness of fertility treatment both here in the Midlands and across the UK. It isn’t right that perfectly healthy eggs are not being used for women who undergo IVF treatment and are then denied a second or third cycle. At the moment it doesn’t seem that any of the CCGs across England are following NICE guidance. I think it’s time that we should put a stop to the IVF postcode lottery which is I am asking the government to set a fair and equal eligibility criteria across the country.”