Around one in three women entitled to receive IVF
are being denied this right, according to a survey carried out by the National
Infertility Awareness Campaign (NIAC).
More than 400 women attending fertility
clinics were surveyed, with 38 percent found to have been incorrectly denied
treatment according to guidelines set out by the National Institute for Health
and Clinical Excellence (NICE). This was attributed to a lack of knowledge on
issues of infertility and treatment options from their local GPs.
Dr Clare Gerada, the chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, told
the Guardian newspaper: 'I don't usually take very seriously surveys that show
that GPs don't know what they are doing but I agree with this survey. I'm
surprised and worried that GPs aren't sympathetic'.
One in six couples in the UK face infertility,
currently defined by NICE as the inability to conceive a child naturally after trying for
three years. The recent NIAC survey of women dealing with infertility found nearly
half said that their GPs were not knowledgeable about their condition or of the
treatment options available. Of those who were referred to a specialist for IVF
treatment, 27 percent had to wait over a year for treatment and 12 percent up
to two years, further reducing their chances of conceiving.
'Infertility treatment has for too long been seen as a low priority,
failing the one in six couples who live with the devastating impact this
illness has on their lives', said Ms Clare Lewis-Jones, the chair of NIAC and
CEO of the patient charity Infertility Network UK.
From 2013, local GP-led Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs)
will take on the commissioning responsibilities of services such as infertility
treatment, a decision that has concerned NIAC. 'Our main concern stems from the
level of preparation within each CCG as our survey results have led us to have
some concerns about the readiness of these groups to take on this role', said Ms
'The stress of IVF is unavoidable. What is
avoidable, however, is the exacerbation of these effects through reductions to
services and long waiting times'. Last year 73 percent of NHS primary care trusts failed to provide comprehensive IVF treatment to infertile couples in
their area, according to a report from MPs.