IVF limit should be raised for women over 40 on the NHS
New proposals published today propose that women up to the age of 42 should be eligible for one full round of IVF treatment on the NHS.
The proposed age limit for IVF will be raised by three years, meaning that women in their late 30s and early 40s will be able to conceive without paying the £8000 they are currently forced to pay for private treatment.
The guidelines also propose new situations in which IVF treatment should be provided. This includes same-sex couples who have had at least six private attempts at IVF, couples who have tried unsuccessfully to have a baby for over two years, for women who are facing cancer treatment that may affect their fertility, and couples with disabilities or infections that prevent conception.
Only a quarter of health authorities currently provide the maximum three cycles of IVF treatment for free, and the proposals have raised questions over whether the plans are affordable. Gedis Grudzinskas, professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Barts and the Royal London, said: “How do we reconcile the changes in society and equality of access to healthcare, with the economic predicament?”
The proposals have, however, widely received a lot of support. Dr Gillian Leng, the deputy chief executive of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), who published the proposals, said: “The aim of these new and updated recommendations is to ensure that everyone who has problems with fertility has access to the best levels of help.”
Gay rights campaigners and charities have praised the decision. Ruth Hunt, director of public affairs at Stonewall, the gay rights charity, explained that the decision constitutes “explicit acknowledgements of the issues same-sex couples face”.