Steve McCabe MP debated the postcode lottery system of IVF treatment in Parliament today.
After being contacted by constituents and countless couples across the country Steve secured a Backbench Business Debate on the disparity of IVF provision across England. There are huge variations across different areas, Steve found only 34 CCGs provide 3 cycles of IVF in line with NICE guidance whereas 175 CCGs provide 0-2 cycles.
After talking to campaigners Steve discovered that the cost of a single cycle is reported as varying by as much as £1300 to £6000. Steve has said that this is commissioning gone mad and is calling for a national tariff.
Steve called on the Health Secretary to investigate the cost disparities and the variations of IVF provision across England to find out why NICE guidance isn’t being followed universally. Failure to follow NICE guidelines and provide 3 full cycles makes almost no sense and may actually be a waste of resources in many cases. Ed Vaizey MP (Con) Colleen Fletcher MP (Lab) also echoed Steve’s calls.
Nicola Blackwood MP, The Parliamentary Under Secretary for the Department of Health responded positively by agreeing that NICE guidance on fertility treatment should be followed by CCGs. Ms Blackwood said that she planned to write to NHS England to encourage CCGs to comply with national guidelines and would make the case for benchmark pricing which could potentially lead to a national tariff.
On Monday Steve took part in a digital debate and hundreds of people told Steve that they’ve had to save for years for the thousands of pounds needed for IVF treatment. This could mean that only those who can afford treatment will get the opportunity to access treatment if further cuts to IVF services go ahead. This is despite the World Health Organisation recognising infertility as a medical treatment which should be provided for.
One in six couples has an issue with infertility affecting around 10.8 million people in the UK but IVF treatment is becoming much harder to get and is often the first service to go. Infertility is the second most common reason for a woman to visit their GP.
Steve McCabe MP said:
“This issue is about real people and the devastating impact untreated infertility can have on their lives. The guidance issued by NICE is clearly not being followed and it seems that a postcode lottery system is operating across England meaning exactly the same treatment costs more in one area than another, what kind of way is this to run the national health service and provide vital treatment?
“I called on the Health Secretary to investigate the cost disparities and variations of IVF provision across England as it seems this is a clear example of Clinical Commissioning gone mad. I also called for a national tariff of IVF services so that everyone has fair and equal access to infertility treatment across the UK. I’m pleased that the Minister recognised the real concerns raised by people affected by infertility and I’ll be keeping an eye on the commitments made by her today.”