IVF is one of Britain’s greatest inventions. Professor Robert Edwards received the Nobel prize for Medicine for his pioneering work with infertile couples. The result of this work was Louise Brown, the first so-called ‘test tube’ baby in the world. Britain, more than any other country should be championing the use of IVF treatment.
This is why, as Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Infertility, I have produced a report – which is being publshed today – to provide a snapshot of IVF provision across the UK today. This report seeks to compare the practices of Primary Care Trusts against the guidelines for IVF provision laid down by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence.
There will always be limits on the amount of infertility treatment that can be given on the NHS and the NICE guidelines achieve a fair balance between the needs of infertile couples and the limits that have to be placed on funding. It is therefore vital that PCTs adhere to them without putting further constraints on couples in need of infertility treatment.
Thousands of couples who otherwise would not have been able to conceive are parents today because of the IVF revolution. Thousands of children who are alive today would not have been were it not for Professor Edwards' work. Despite, this only 27% of PCTs offer the three cycles of IVF treatment suggested by the NICE guidelines. Even in some of those PCTS that do offer IVF, there are often many conditions which prevent infertile couples receiving the treatment they should have.
IVF treatment should be celebrated and PCTs should give IVF greater priority than is often the case. Its provision across all parts of the NHS – in accordance with the NICE guidelines – should be ensured.
If you would like to read the report in full, you can do so at my website.