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IVF for over-40s in East Lancashire to be reviewed
HEALTH bosses will look at offering free infertility treatment for women aged 40 and over despite failing to provide the recommended three cycles of IVF for those under 40 now.
The Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) for Blackburn with Darwen and East Lancashire have promised to examine new national guidelines to extend the age limit for assisted conception from 39 to 42.
Hopes of older women getting IVF on the NHS have been tempered because the Primary Care Trusts being replaced by the CCG’s in April only provide two cycles of treatment to women aged under 39 at the moment.
Dr Malcolm Ridgway, of Blackburn with Darwen CCG, said: “The current policy is for two cycles up to the age of 40. The CCG always discusses NICE guidance to decide on implementation and impact.”
Dr Mike Ions, head of the East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Following the publication of updated NICE guidelines on treatment for people with fertility problems, our policy is now under review.
“We intend to undertake an analysis of our local population in order to reflect and understand the potential impact that this new guidance will have, and the information gathered will be acted upon appropriately.”
The East Lancashire PCT told MPs in 2011 it provided two cycles to women struggling to conceive between 23 and 39. Blackburn with Darwen CCG’s board has yet to discuss the guidance from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).
A spokesman said: “Generally the CCG supports NICE guidance but always discusses the implications before making any decision. It may well be that this is taken up by the Lancashire network of CCGs to decide if there is to be a Lancashire-wide policy.”
Currently only one in four English NHS trusts offers the full three cycles which cost £3,000 each.
Dr Sue Avery, a spokesperson for the British Fertility Society said: “It’s good that there’s the possibility there, but the funding does not match. I can’t see any prospect of it happening immediately. Our biggest concern is hanging on to the funding we’ve got.”
Burnley mum Gemma Walton, who had private IVF after NHS treatments failed said: “I think everybody should be entitled to NHS treatment for infertility – whether they’re 40, 30 or 20.
“It’s a life-changing experience but going private is very expensive. It’s transformed my life and my partner William’s for the better. Our baby Olivia Rose is lovely.
“These new guidelines need to be followed. Every woman, whatever her age, who wants a baby and is struggling should be able to at least try to have one.”