The British public health system needs to cap its expenditure. Reimbursement of IVF for infertile or same sex couples is an enormous potential saving that hospitals are beginning to take on board.
The London borough of Croydon was the first to stop funding IVF last year. The decision is based on a potential annual saving of £836,000. Some regions in England have set more drastic inclusion criteria, limiting, for instance, the age of the father to 52, or reserving IVF solely for childless couples.
In theory, every woman under the age of forty who has tried to conceive for more than two years should be entitled to three cycles of IVF treatment reimbursed by the NHS. In practice, barely one in ten hospitals actually offers three cycles. Most establishments offer only one cycle “within the framework of generalised NHS cuts and the rationing of services in an attempt to save money”.
Wealthy couples can turn towards the private sector or move closer to one of the few hospitals still offering three IVF treatment cycles. Others prefer to travel abroad to receive cheaper IVF treatment, taking the risk of a multiple and therefore more dangerous pregnancy.
To coin the phrase of NHS Clinical Commissioners, “The NHS does not have unlimited resources… difficult choices have to be made”.
Guardian, Sarah Marsh (29/06/2018)