The NHS in north east London will from 3 April 2023 fund up to three cycles of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) for all eligible local people, as part of changes that make the funding of NHS treatment for people with fertility problems fairer across the area.
This change is one of a number in the new north east London fertility policy, which replaces the previous five different policies across the area. The new single policy was approved by the NHS North East London Integrated Care Board on 30 November 2022 and will mean that all eligible people registered with a GP in north east London will be able to have the same fertility treatment, such as IVF – this was not previously the case.
Dr Anju Gupta, GP and Clinical Lead at NHS North East London, said: “Our new policy is good news for local people who need help to try to have a baby.
“We’ve increased the amount of treatment you can have and improved access to some treatments. I’m proud that the policy is fairer and that it recognises people’s different fertility situations and needs.”
“Fertility and fertility problems are a highly personal and emotive topic, and every person has different needs and expectations of what support the NHS should provide.
“With this in mind, we acknowledge that our new policy doesn’t address all of the concerns of some local people. However, we believe it does address inequalities across north east London, while prioritising treatment for people with proven fertility issues.”
There are many treatments that can support people to try to get pregnant, some of which are paid for by the NHS. The main treatment areas where NHS North East London has made changes in its policy are:
- Increased access to IVF and the number of cycles available:
- All eligible people aged under 40 are now entitled to up to three full IVF cycles. Previously people in Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge (BHR) were entitled to one embryo transfer only.
- The upper age limit to access IVF treatment has been increased by one year. All eligible people aged 40, 41 and 42 are now entitled to one full IVF cycle. Previously this was not funded for people aged 40 and over in BHR nor for people aged 42 in other areas of north east London.
- Increased funding for intrauterine insemination (IUI) so that up to six cycles will now be funded for eligible people:
- Trying to get pregnant using donor insemination who have fertility problems. IUI was not previously funded for these people.
- With some conditions and social, cultural or religious objections to IVF. IUI was not previously funded for these people.
- With a physical disability or psychosexual problem.
- With a condition that means they need IUI as part of their fertility treatment.
- Increased the length of time the local NHS will fund the storage of eggs, sperm and embryos to:
- Up to their 43rd birthday for people aged under 32.
- Up to 10 years for people aged 32 and over.
- Previously storage was funded for the first 10 years in Tower Hamlets and for the first five years in other areas of north east London.
The new policy is for both individuals and couples with a fertility problem, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or relationship status, and applies to people who are registered with a GP in Barking and Dagenham, City of London, Hackney, Havering, Newham, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets or Waltham Forest.
Gwenda Burns, Chief Executive of national charity Fertility Network UK, said: “Fertility Network UK applauds NHS North East London for their new fertility policy, which will offer hope to so many people struggling to become parents. It is a fertility policy for the 21st century and we are pleased to have helped with their engagement work on it.”
NHS North East London used the latest national clinical guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, research and best practice to develop the new policy. Clinicians, including GPs and fertility experts also helped to shape it.
A public engagement period on the proposed new policy ran from 13 June to 22 August 2022 and overall the feedback received was positive. All the feedback was analysed and reviewed, and some changes were made to the final policy as a result. The engagement report and responses to the feedback received can be found on the NHS North East London website: www.northeastlondon.icb.nhs.uk/fertilityservices
The full policy and other documents, including questions and answers, an information leaflet and a summary of the main changes can be found on the NHS North East London website: www.northeastlondon.icb.nhs.uk/fertilityservices