New criteria to assess women eligible for IVF treatment may not solve old problems
IVF on NHS for women over 40″ ran one front-page headline last week. A casual reader of that and similar articles could have been forgiven for concluding that the rule banning women aged 40 or over from accessing state-funded fertility treatment is being scrapped. It isn’t, but it might be.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) has recently begun looking at whether its existing guideline on fertility needs to be updated. First issued in 2004, this medical world equivalent of a tablet of stone has always been tinged with controversy. Its main recommendation – that women aged 23 to 39 meeting set medical criteria should get up to three cycles of IVF on the NHS – is widely ignored by the local NHS organisations in England and Wales who are meant to approve it and foot the bill.
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