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Fertility treatment 'should be free'

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Three-quarters of fertility experts say IVF should be funded by the NHS, finds a survey of 182 doctors by the British Fertility Society.

The survey, marking the 30th anniversary of the birth of the first IVF baby, Louise Brown, also finds 47% felt lifestyle factors such as smoking should be considered when deciding whether couples could receive NHS funded IVF treatment cycles.

‘The fact that so many experts now believe that IVF should be made freely available to patients through the NHS should be a wake-up call to government and those who decide how NHS money is spent. These bodies have scandalously failed to move anywhere near the recommended NICE guidelines of three rounds of IVF per patient,’ said Dr Allan Pacey, secretary of the society.

Additionally, 85% of respondents called for more clinical trials to test the efficacy of new IVF techniques, with 46% feeling that such procedures were being offered to patients before robust research has demonstrated that they were effective.

The society is involved in plans to set up a new UK National Clinical Studies Group to improve clinical trials in reproductive medicine.

Almost 60% either agreed or strongly agreed that sperm, egg and embryo donors should remain anonymous, many feeling that the government decision to remove anonymity has significantly reduced the availability of donor sperm and eggs.

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