Single women are being offered £3,000 IVF treatment for free, while couples struggling to conceive are forced to pay
Almost a fifth of NHS trusts are offering single women free fertility treatment, while married couples are denied help. The move casts doubt on the Government’s family-friendly credentials.
Women who are not in a relationship can have a £3,000 course of IVF at 24 out of 135 Primary Care Trusts, despite official guidance recommending that couples struggling to conceive should be given priority.
The shift in patient priority is due to the removal of reference to the ‘need for a father’ when considering the welfare of the child in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008.
The Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, former Bishop of Rochester, says: ‘The irony is that at the very time research is showing the need for both parents, we are writing fathers out of legislation.’
‘It’s one thing for a mother to find herself a single parent because of tragic circumstances,’ he says. ‘It’s quite another to plan a situation where the child comes into the world without having a father or any possibility of having a father.’
The argument is that while a fifth of PCT’s are paying for single women to undergo treatment, others are not funding couples in long-term relationships, leaving them to find the thousands of pounds needed to finance IVF.
Against the background of spending cuts and the target for the NHS to save £20billion by 2015, Gareth Johnson – the MP who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Infertility – says the decision to offer IVF to single women is misplaced.
‘There’s always going to be limitations on what treatment can be offered, but this seems to say we should be giving IVF wherever we want,’ he says.
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