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Volume 496: debated on Wednesday 16 September 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to increase the number of in vitro fertilisation treatment cycles available on the NHS in (a) England and (b) Leeds. (291265)

We are working with the national health service and the patient support group Infertility Network UK to encourage primary care trusts (PCTs) in the provision of three full cycles of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment, as recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidelines.

In 2008, we set up an expert group on commissioning NHS infertility provision. Their interim report identified barriers to the commissioning of IVF by PCTs and the final report of the expert group will be published in the autumn.

In June this year, the expert group produced a commissioning aid to help commissioners understand the particular sensitivities and complexities of infertility and its treatment. Alongside the commissioning aid, we also published access criteria, which were developed by Infertility Network UK in discussion with the expert group. To launch both the commissioning aid and the access criteria we ran a conference for commissioners, to help raise awareness.

We are monitoring IVF treatment provision across the country to help identify where further work is required to assist PCTs in assessing the needs of fertility patients and helping them to deliver those services in an equitable way.

The Yorkshire and the Humber strategic health authority (SHA) has advised that the Yorkshire and the Humber Specialised Commissioning Group is currently consulting on a region wide policy for fertility treatment. Further information is on their website:

The SHA has advised that one of the issues being considered is the number of cycles of in vitro fertilisation treatment and it is expected that the policy will be in place by April 2010.