Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

NHS to Face Cash Battle

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

NHS to Face Cash Battle

Article excerpt

Childless couples in the North could soon be given be a boost in their struggle to start families - but at a cost to health budgets.

Fertility experts revealed yesterday there is a good chance national guidelines will change this November to allow families five chances of having an IVF baby on the NHS, as opposed to two at present.

But the Department of Health warned last night it was unlikely there would be extra cash to support the rule change and hard-up health trusts would have to pay for the extra treatments from their budgets.

As each cycle of IVF treatment costs about pounds 2,000, health bosses - who are already struggling with the costs of IVF in parts of the North - are waiting to see what impact the ruling will have on their budgets.

Family support groups pledged last night to campaign for extra Government money to pay for the rule change.

Dr Alison Murdoch, from Newcastle Fertility Centre at Life predicted that the National Institute for Clinical Excellence might recommend in November that couples receive four or five cycles of treatment on the NHS.

The chances of a couple conceiving with two cycles of IVF is about 40pc, but that rises to 65pc on five cycles.

At an infertility information day in Newcastle yesterday, Dr Murdoch said: "Nice [National Institute for Clinical Excellence] are looking at all aspects of fertility treatment and I am very positive about the possibility of them recommencing an increase in the number of cycles of IVF which people are entitled to on the NHS.

"Nice look at cost effectiveness and their recommendations usually become obligatory.

"I think people should watch the situation closely - they may be able to use it to their advantage."

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said local health authorities would be expected to pay for any extra treatment from their budgets. Lack of funding means some North health trusts are already struggling to provide the two IVF cycles to which couples are entitled. …

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