Fertility: Medical Treatments

Department of Health written question – answered on 23rd May 2016.

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Photo of Steve McCabe Steve McCabe Labour, Birmingham, Selly Oak

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what research his Department has conducted on the level of compliance with NICE guidelines on fertility treatment by each clinical commissioning group in England in the last three years.

Photo of Steve McCabe Steve McCabe Labour, Birmingham, Selly Oak

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what recent estimate he has made of the annual cost to the NHS of high-risk pregnancies caused by patients going abroad for IVF treatment.

Photo of Steve McCabe Steve McCabe Labour, Birmingham, Selly Oak

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what assessment he has made of the extent of the practice among clinical commissioning groups in England of offering only one fresh cycle of IVF treatment.

Photo of Jane Ellison Jane Ellison The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

The Government has not made an assessment of the annual cost to the National Health Service of high risk pregnancies caused by patients going abroad for in vitro fertilisation (IVF).

Multiple births are the single biggest risk to the health and welfare of children born following fertility treatment and present significant health risks to mothers and babies. Over recent years, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has worked to drive down multiple birth rates whilst maintaining consistent treatment success rates.

To minimise the risk of multiple pregnancies, there has been a growing trend for IVF providers to only transfer one embryo, even when more are available, in patients who have a good chance of successful treatment. Elective single embryo transfer is the most effective way of reducing multiple pregnancies. The HFEA has advised that most clinics have shown significant progress in reducing multiple births without compromising pregnancy rates. In 2008 nearly one in four IVF births resulted in a multiple birth but now, with a concerted multiple births reduction policy, this number is one in six.

Although progress has been made, this number is still higher than the rate in conceptions that do not involve assisted reproduction treatment. The overall goal is to reduce multiple births to one in ten.

The level of provision of infertility treatment, as for all health services they commission, is decided by local clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and will take into account the needs of the population overall. The CCG’s decisions are underpinned by clinical insight and knowledge of local healthcare needs. As such, provision of services will vary in response to local needs.

Information about CCGs approach to commissioning or compliance with the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence guidelines regarding IVF services is not collected centrally.

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