It’s clear there are many problems today with how people are able to access NHS funded fertility care. A postcode lottery of restrictions across the UK means that many people are refused the 3 funded cycles that are recommended by NICE. This can leave those who want a child but require assistance conceiving with no other option but to privately fund their own care. This can be extremely expensive.
BPAS advocate to improve care for all whether they are seeking treatment from the NHS or the private sector.
Find out more about our campaign below.
Our research found that systemic problems with NHS funding have effectively created a fertility postcode lottery, with devastating consequences for some patients. People living just a few streets apart are facing a gulf between them when it comes to the NHS-funded IVF care they are entitled to.
Currently only 23 areas in England offer the clinically recommended number of IVF cycles meaning thousands of families are forced to shoulder the burden of costly private care. For those who want to be single parents, are in same-sex relationships, or in a relationship where their partner already has a child, there are huge extra financial barriers, and they are often denied NHS-funded fertility care, despite the government pledging to change this.
We work alongside campaigners, advocates, and patient groups to challenge the postcode lottery, and ensure that all patients have comprehensive, equal access to NHS fertility care, regardless of where they live. Read our report on the IVF postcode lottery here.
Fertility services are crucial in supporting the development of different family structures, providing same-sex couples and solo individuals with the ability to try to become parents. Our investigation found that same-sex female couples and single patients seeking NHS-funded IVF care face additional, hidden financial burdens which amount to a tax on LGBT+ families.
In July 2022, the government announced as a part of the Women’s Health Strategy for England, to tackle the IVF postcode lottery, but as of yet no implementations have been made.
The majority of IVF cycles provided in the UK are self-funded by patients, often at great personal cost. Having fertility treatment can be a vulnerable experience, and the financial burden adds an extra layer of complexity for patients, who are often not used to funding their own healthcare. All patients deserve a transparent service and comprehensive support from their fertility clinic at every stage of their fertility journey.
The Competition and Markets Authority raised concerns about private fertility clinics’ practices, such as a lack of price transparency and misleading claims about success rates, meaning patients may be unable to compare clinics. BPAS provided evidence to a recent inquiry from the CMA, which resulted in new guidance which clarifies private clinics’ obligations under UK consumer law when they are treating private patients. We are calling for a thorough assessment of clinics’ compliance to ensure that they are following the guidance in all their interactions with patients.