The Real Cost of IVF

Progress Educational Trust
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, 27 Sussex Place, Regent's Park, London NW1 4RG
11 April 2018
This public event was organised by the Progress Educational Trust (PET) in partnership with the British Fertility Society and discussed the hidden costs of fertility treatment - including emotional costs, psychological costs and opportunity costs, whether borne by individuals, couples, or wider society.
Questions explored at this event included:
Does receiving fertility treatment confer any benefit to patients, even if there is no baby to take home at the end? Is unsuccessful fertility treatment more devastating than no treatment at all, or is it better to at least have had the chance to try?
How can we assess the costs and benefits of providing fertility treatment?
Quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) are often used to compare the value of treatments for different conditions, but fertility is not easily captured in this way. Whose QALYs should be taken into account - those of an individual patient, a couple, a child conceived via fertility treatment, or a combination of these?
What are the costs of health complications caused by multiple pregnancy following IVF? How could these costs be avoided? What proportion of multiple pregnancies in the UK is attributable to fertility treatment received overseas?
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has argued that 'multiple pregnancy is the greatest avoidable risk of IVF', that 'the health and financial burdens it places on women, families and the NHS cannot be overstated', and that 'the single most important factor that could enhance the acceptance of elective single embryo transfer among patients and practitioners is the provision of appropriate funding for IVF treatment'.
Is the cost to the NHS of mental health services for involuntarily childless people comparable to (or even greater than) the cost of providing those people with NHS-funded fertility treatment?
With decreasing birth rates, an ageing population and the future tax contributions of today's IVF babies to consider, can we afford not to treat infertility?

Jacky Boivin
Professor of Health Psychology and Chartered Health Psychologist at Cardiff University's School of Psychology
Dr Rebecca Brown
Research Fellow at the University of Oxford's Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics
Jessica Hepburn
Author of the books The Pursuit of Motherhood and 21 Miles: Swimming in Search of the Meaning of Motherhood
Professor Lesley Regan
President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

Sally Cheshire
Chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority

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