More IVF For Gay Couples And Older Women

Siobhan Robbins, Sky News Reporter

Older women and more gay couples may get greater access to IVF treatment on the NHS under new guidelines.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is expected to make the recommendations in its report next week.

Currently, women over 40 years old are not eligible to NHS funded fertility treatment and have to pay privately, which can cost between £6,000 and £8,000 per cycle.

Figures from the Human Fertilisation Embryology Authority show one in seven couples in the UK struggle to conceive and every year around 48,000 women have IVF.

The possibility that gay couples may get greater access to treatment is being welcomed by James Taylor from campaign group, Stonewall.

He told Sky News: "In the last ten years we've seen greater legal protections for same sex couples, which Stonewall fought hard to achieve, and we hope they're reflected in the new guidelines.

"We've seen a greater number of lesbians go through IVF treatment and start families and we hope the new NICE guidance really recognises the different families that do exist at the moment."

But, Anthony Ozimic from the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children expressed his organisation's opposition.

He said: "This decision ignores biology in the face of politically correct social engineering.

"Same sex couples do not have fertility problems, they have chosen a naturally non-fertile lifestyle, and we shouldn't be spending millions of pounds of taxpayers money on fertility procedures for people who do not have fertility problems."

NICE has not confirmed whether these changes will definitely be included in the updated guidelines to be be released on Wednesday.

The recommendations are influenced by medical advances and changing social attitudes but do not have to consider the NHS's need to save billions of pounds.

If the guidelines do change, it will be local NHS trusts that decide whether to fund them.

However, a spokesperson from The Department of Health said: "We believe that all PCTs - and in the future, Clinical Commissioning Groups - should take account of National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines for fertility treatment."

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