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HFEA launches commissioning guidance for fertility treatment

This guidance is intended for clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to support them in commissioning fertility services for their local population and implementing the NICE guidelines on fertility treatment.

We produced this guidance in conjunction with the main professional bodies, British Fertility Society, Association of Clinical Embryologists, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and Royal College of Nursing to assist CCGs in using available resources to make evidence-based clinical commissioning decisions. 

We recognise that CCGs face many competing priorities. This guidance aims to promote more consistent and better quality commissioning decisions across the UK, improve the cost-effectiveness of healthcare resources and deliver the significant public health benefits that are possible through accessing fertility treatment. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s (NICE) clinical guidance on diagnosing and treating fertility problems should be referred to.

A benchmark price for IVF has been published in 2019 by NHS Improvement which will help to guide how much you are spending on IVF treatment in your area.  

Our Chair, Sally Cheshire CBE, said:

“The UK pioneered IVF treatment, celebrating the birth of the first IVF baby, Louise Brown in 1978, and the NHS has played an important part in IVF’s successful development across the UK, continuing to care for fertility patients and improve outcomes.

“We believe that patients should have fair access to treatment and, whilst the NHS remains a key provider of IVF only 35% of all treatments in England are funded by the NHS. This compares to 62% of NHS funded treatment cycles in Scotland, 50% in Northern Ireland and 39% in Wales. 

“NICE guidelines recommend that Clinical Commissioning Groups in England offer three full IVF cycles to women under 40 and one full cycle to women aged 40-42 without children, but the reality is that NHS funded IVF provision varies across the country.

“We know how important adequate funding is to allow patients, with a recognised medical condition of infertility, to try to have their much longed-for families. This is why we have been working with the main professional groups to provide this commissioning guidance for CCGs and with NHS England to benchmark costs, so that the very small amount of public funding spent on fertility treatment is optimised and patients get a fair deal.”

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Review date: 5 December 2021