Health boards announce 'rapid review' of policy that denied single women IVF

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Health chiefs have announced a 'rapid review' on a controversial policy to deny single women the chance to have children through IVF.

The NHS South East London Commissioning Alliance only offers the treatment to couples who are living in a 'stable relationship'.

Critics slammed the policy, first reported by the Sunday Times, as being 'outdated' and the views behind the measure as 'obselete'.

The body, which represents six local commissioning boards, has now appeared to backtrack on the decision to ration IVF to couples.

It said it was committed to making sure access to NHS fertility services 'is fair and consistent within the limited resources we have available'.

A spokesperson for the SELCA told the Health Service Journal it would 'prioritise a rapid review of the policy in relation to single women'.

The NHS South East London Commissioning Alliance only offers the treatment to couples who are living in a 'stable relationship'

The NHS South East London Commissioning Alliance only offers the treatment to couples who are living in a 'stable relationship'

CCGs, or clinical commissioning groups, are the local boards in charge of funding for GP surgeries and hospitals in areas across England.

The boards ration procedures, including IVF, hip replacements and cataract surgery, in order to save NHS money to redirect it elsewhere.

Guidelines from the health watchdog recommend all eligible women under 40 should get three full IVF cycles after two years of trying to get pregnant naturally.

However, figures from 2018 revealed that only 13 per cent of areas in England offer the full amount of cycles. This is down from 24 per cent in 2013.

Seven CCGs out of 208 have reportedly stopped offering IVF on the NHS entirely, according to the campaign group Fertility Fairness. 

Couples are increasingly being limited to one round of fertility treatment or forced to fund it themselves amid cutbacks by NHS chiefs. 

The controversial policy, which covers two million patients, follows guidance from an internal document written in 2011, the Sunday Times reported.

WHAT IS THE POSSIBILITY OF HAVING A CHILD AT 48?

The number of older mothers has soared in recent decades, as more women concentrate on their career and start families later.

But doctors tend to warn women not to leave it too late to have children. They stress that with age fertility drops and their risk of complications, including stillbirths, increases.

Experts estimate women in their late forties have as little as a one in 20 chance of becoming pregnant because of their lower supply of eggs, which are less capable of being fertilised.

The British Fertility Society previously warned celebrities who have children in their 40s are giving women false hope about late motherhood.

Chairman Adam Balen said celebrities who paraded ‘miracle babies’ will often have used IVF or donor eggs, both of which can cost thousands of pounds.

Because they do not make this public, their fans fail to realise the fertility issues and health problems that may result.

Demand for donor eggs, one of the most common methods for older women to have a baby, have soared in recent years. 

Other options include IVF, if the woman still has some of her own eggs, or even intrauterine insemination - when sperm is directly placed into the uterus

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