Couples hoping to apply for IVF treatment to help them get pregnant may be refused even if suitable under official guidelines, a study has found.
The report, carried out by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Infertility, used Freedom of Information requests submitted to all 152 Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) to establish what restrictions were in place for IVF treatment for couples trying to get pregnant.
Official guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) released in 2004, suggest that women aged 23 to 39 should be offered three cycles from the NHS.
However, according to the report, only 27% of Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) offer infertile couples all three cycles, while others offer fewer or even none. Many are imposing their own strict limits on who can receive the treatment. Women are being turned down if they are considered too young, too old, overweight, smokers, or even if the father already has children.
This means that many desperate couples are to only have one or two chances of getting pregnant before they have to pay for private treatment or consider other options such as adoption.
The report also found that five trusts – Warrington, North Yorkshire and York, West Sussex, Stockport and North Staffordshire – do not offer IVF at all.
The IVF recommendations made by NICE are guidelines only. In response, a Department of Health spokesman has said: “The NHS is making good progress in implementing NICE guidelines and in providing fair and consistent access to IVF.”
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