Welsh Green Dragon


Couples to receive two IVF cycles by tanyamercer
April 1, 2010, 3:07 pm
Filed under: Future Thinking, Health, Protest

Couples in Wales will now be able to have two free cycles of IVF treatment on the NHS.

Since 2005 women in Wales have been able to receive one treatment of IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation)  on the NHS.  But the new provision brings the country into line with England and Scotland.

The change comes after Health Minister Edwina Hart announced last year that she was “keen to increase the number of IVF treatment cycles.”

NICE guidelines

The guidelines by the health guidance body – the National Institute of Clinical Excellence(NICE) – recommend that the NHS should pay for three IVF treatment cycles.

But the Welsh Assembly suggested that two cycles was a financially viable alternative.

Ms Hart said: “I recognise that this is an extremely emotive issue…I have had lots of representations on this issue and I am pleased that I am in a position to go some way towards increasing the opportunities for women to try to have children within the available resources.”

In Vitro Fertilisation

Campaign

The new provision comes after a high profile campaign led by Kara Ellard from Pembrokeshire and Julia Eynon from Bridgend. 

Both women have undergone several fertility treatments, costing thousands of pounds between them.  The women petitioned the Welsh Assembly to follow the NICE guidelines.

Julia Eynon said: “This is such good news for women like ourselves.  It’s still not the full implementation of the NICE guidelines that we’d hoped for, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction. So we’re really happy.”

Criteria

To benefit from the second cycle, couples will have to comply with the original set of criteria for IVF treatment on the NHS.

Women must be under 40 years old.  Couples must not have any adopted or biological children living with them. Patients must have a body mass index (BMI) between 19-30.  And, if either partner smokes, they must take part in a programme to quit, and must have stopped by the time treatment starts.

Demand

The Welsh Assembly Government has released £800,000 of additional funding to meet the expected increased demand for IVF as a result of the provision. 

A Welsh Assembly spokesperson told CJS: “Clinics providing IVF treatment will be contacting women who have had one cycle in the past six years…We aim to provide a second course of IVF treatment for women who are eligible within 26 weeks.”

Renewed hope

Peter Bowen-Simpkins, medical director of the London Women’s Clinic in Swansea, said the new provision offers many women renewed hope.

“This is very good news for women in Wales,” he said.  “Although there’s no guarantee someone will get pregnant with two cycles of IVF, certainly the more cycles that are offered, the better the chances of becoming pregnant.”