Isle of Man couples wishing to undergo IVF will only have funds to complete one cycle of treatment following a review of fertility care, the Manx government has announced. Last year, when there was no fixed budget, 32 couples underwent IVF treatment which cost £100,000. But now the cap is £40,000, equivalent to IVF funding being halved and only enough to treat around 20 couples.
A consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Noble's Hospital, Dr Michele Moroney, has called for residents to lobby politicians to increase support for a 'serious health issue that has been ignored'. Dr Moroney told the Isle of Man today: 'Eight per cent of couples will experience fertility problems and based on the Isle of Man population I would expect to see 75 new couples each year. These couples will obviously not all require IVF/ICSI' ( (intracytoplasmic sperm injection).
'Of those that do and who are fortunate enough to meet the Isle of Man funding criteria the annual need will inevitably exceed the available funding. This will lead to waiting lists for treatment and as waiting lists lengthen the women will age making a successful outcome less likely'.
Health Minister David Anderson, who approved the funding cut, said that couples would receive better treatment than many in the UK. But Dr Moroney said that this is incorrect: 'All UK health trusts will offer one cycle of treatment and often the criteria enabling couples to qualify for treatment are less rigorous than those about to be implemented here'.
To be eligible for IVF funding, couples must be in a stable relationship and be infertile for at least three years. Women must be under the age of 38 with a BMI (Body Mass Index) below 30. Men must be under the age 55 with a BMI of below 35. Smokers are ineligible for funding.
Government spokesperson told the BBC: 'The provision is still very reasonable as compared to the UK. Many NHS trusts limit IVF treatment available on the NHS to one cycle. Here we are not part of NHS and are subject to financial restraint. And whilst IVF is important it's not something we can open our cheque books for. We can't let it get too expensive or it starts to affect other services and we have to think about other things we have to keep or cut so this is a reasonable compromise'.
Patients from the island are sent to the UK for IVF treatment. All costs covered by the Manx government.