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NHS: In Vitro Fertilisation

Volume 684: debated on Wednesday 5 July 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

To what age the National Health Service offers free in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment; what percentage of patients are offered natural IVF and under what circumstances; and how the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority involves patients in its deliberations.[HL6611]

The clinical guideline on the assessment and treatment of people with fertility problems, produced by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence and issued in February 2004, advises that stimulated cycles of in vitro fertilisation should be offered, if appropriate, where the woman is aged between 23 and 39 years at the time of treatment. Information on the percentage of patients offered in vitro fertilisation without ovarian stimulatory drugs is not collected centrally. However, the information collected by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority is that in 2002-04, 1,164 unstimulated cycles took place, with a live birth rate of 18.13 per cent. In the same period there were 55,923 stimulated cycles, with a live birth rate of 22.73 per cent. Patients wishing to consider the option of unstimulated cycles can tell the clinician treating them.

The HFEA involves patients in its work in a variety of ways, including regular consultation with an online patients’ panel, collection of feedback from patients on their experience of treatment services to inform the authority’s inspection process, and close and regular contact with organisations representing patients. The authority also seeks patients’ views when it consults publicly on the development of new policies.