Merton health chiefs thaw funding freeze and offer free first round of IVF to couples to ease ‘heartbreak’ of infertility

Merton couples battling infertility issues are now eligible for a free first round of IVF after health chiefs reversed a funding freeze.

A Merton Clinical Commissioning Group said they are ‘delighted’ to be able to reverse the decision made by their predecessor, who suspended funding for IVF for new patients.

The decision to suspend funding by Sutton and Merton Primary Care Trust was made to focus resources on treating patients who were already waiting for treatment.

Couples struggling to conceive can now be referred by their GP for one cycle of IVF.

Dr Howard Freeman, Chair of Merton CCG said: “We fully appreciate that for couples who are having difficulty conceiving their first child it can be a heart-breaking experience.

“We are pleased to be able to assist couples who want to start a family.”

Sutton and Merton Primary Care Trust, along with four other PCTs in North Yorkshire and York, did not offer any IVF to new patients.

NICE issued new guidelines last year stating that women aged 23-42 who are unable to conceive naturally should be offered three courses of IVF.

In Britain around 3.5million couples have fertility problems and it’s estimated that at some time in their lives at least a quarter of couples experience a period of infertility lasting over a year.

Clinical Commissioning Groups, who replaced PCTS, have also struggled to meet this criteria leading to accusations of NHS services being a ‘postcode lottery’.

A Merton CCG spokesman said they had always wanted to reverse the decision to not offer IVF to new patients and are thrilled to bring their services in line with other areas in South West London.

Picture courtesy of University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment DNA Lab, with thanks

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