Waltham Forest Echo

Waltham Forest Echo

East London NHS planning to change policy around help to conceive

The local NHS is consulting on changes around who could receive help to conceive and how

Hero for East London NHS planning to change policy around help to conceive
Stock image (credit: Pexels/Pixabay)
By Victoria Munro 22 July 2022

A proposed NHS policy update across East London will change who is eligible to receive help to conceive and what treatments are available.A proposed NHS policy update across East London will change who is eligible to receive help to conceive and what treatments are available.

Currently, NHS policy differs between boroughs but the update seeks to make them the same in all seven boroughs of north east London, including Waltham Forest.Currently, NHS policy differs between boroughs but the update seeks to make them the same in all seven boroughs of north east London, including Waltham Forest.

Proposed changes include allowing slightly older patients to receive fertility treatments and refusing treatment to patients of any age with few or poor quality eggs.Proposed changes include allowing slightly older patients to receive fertility treatments and refusing treatment to patients of any age with few or poor quality eggs.

A consultation document prepared by the combined north east London NHS reads: “The aim of the new policy is not to reduce the treatments that we fund or who is eligible to have them. A consultation document prepared by the combined north east London NHS reads: “The aim of the new policy is not to reduce the treatments that we fund or who is eligible to have them. 

“Depending on where you live, what we are proposing is likely to increase the amount of treatment you can have, and improve access to some treatments. “Depending on where you live, what we are proposing is likely to increase the amount of treatment you can have, and improve access to some treatments. 

“We want to make it so that wherever you live in north east London, you are able to have the same fertility treatment if you need help getting pregnant. “We want to make it so that wherever you live in north east London, you are able to have the same fertility treatment if you need help getting pregnant. 

“We need to make best use of NHS money, given the increasing needs of our population and competing demands for resources.” “We need to make best use of NHS money, given the increasing needs of our population and competing demands for resources.” 

Under the proposed new policy, patients of any age could not receive “assisted conception” on the NHS if tests show they have “low ovarian reserve”, meaning a low number and/or quality of eggs.Under the proposed new policy, patients of any age could not receive “assisted conception” on the NHS if tests show they have “low ovarian reserve”, meaning a low number and/or quality of eggs.

This would be measured by three tests recommended by NICE, which look at the number of eggs left and determine their quality by the levels of two hormones. If two or more tests show low reserve, the patient would not be eligible for treatment.This would be measured by three tests recommended by NICE, which look at the number of eggs left and determine their quality by the levels of two hormones. If two or more tests show low reserve, the patient would not be eligible for treatment.

NICE guidelines state only patients aged 40+ should be subject to “ovarian reserve” tests before they are deemed eligible for treatment.NICE guidelines state only patients aged 40+ should be subject to “ovarian reserve” tests before they are deemed eligible for treatment.

The consultation document states: “With limited NHS budgets we have to make sure we’re funding treatment where it is also likely to result in a person becoming pregnant, which is why we are using ovarian reserve criteria but increasing funding for IVF cycles in our proposed policy.” The consultation document states: “With limited NHS budgets we have to make sure we’re funding treatment where it is also likely to result in a person becoming pregnant, which is why we are using ovarian reserve criteria but increasing funding for IVF cycles in our proposed policy.” 

If put in place, the new policy would raise the upper age limit for treatment from 39 or 41, depending on borough, to 43 years old.If put in place, the new policy would raise the upper age limit for treatment from 39 or 41, depending on borough, to 43 years old.

Eligible patients would also be entitled to more rounds of IVF - or in-vitro fertilisation - and could undergo fewer unsuccessful attempts at artificial insemination before IVF was offered.Eligible patients would also be entitled to more rounds of IVF - or in-vitro fertilisation - and could undergo fewer unsuccessful attempts at artificial insemination before IVF was offered.

Those aged 39 and under could have three “full” IVF cycles, while those aged 40-42 could have one. Twelve attempts at artificial insemination would be needed to qualify for IVF on the NHS, although the NHS would only fund a maximum of half of these attempts.Those aged 39 and under could have three “full” IVF cycles, while those aged 40-42 could have one. Twelve attempts at artificial insemination would be needed to qualify for IVF on the NHS, although the NHS would only fund a maximum of half of these attempts.

Residents can find out more or give their feedback on the proposed changes until 22nd August here.Residents can find out more or give their feedback on the proposed changes until 22nd August here.