Women in York must prove they’ve been in a two-year relationship to qualify for IVF

Women must prove they have been in a stable relationship for two years and neither partner should have any children – if they are to qualify for fertility treatment on the NHS in York.

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service has warned that Clinical Commissioning Groups are restricting access to NHS-funded fertility treatment using “arbitrary limitations”.

They claim there is an IVF “postcode lottery”.

In York women must have a body mass index below 29.1 and couples must be currently living together to qualify for treatment – which consists of one cycle of IVF.

NICE guideline state that offering three cycles is the most cost-effective measure.

But recent changes to Vale of York CCG’s policy have seen the age range extended.

Previously only women aged 23 to 42 could access treatment – that has been relaxed to patients aged between 18 and 43.

Marta Jansa Perez, director of embryology at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service said: “Access to any form of healthcare should be rooted in clinical evidence. Sadly, this report demonstrates that for most patients in need of fertility treatment, this is simply not the case.

“It is deeply unfair that systemic problems with funding have effectively created a fertility pot-luck, with devastating consequences for some patients.

People living just a few streets apart are facing a gulf between them when it comes to the care they are entitled to – and that care could change the course of the rest of their lives.

“We know that the economic uncertainty caused by Covid-19 will mean that some couples delay starting their families, and the growing trend towards older motherhood means that more people are trying to conceive later in life.

“In this context, ensuring fair and comprehensive access to funded-IVF has never been more important.”

A spokesperson for Vale of York CCG said their IVF access policy was written with input from clinicians and that there is an option for patients to apply for exceptional funding if they do not meet the criteria.

They added: “We, alongside a number of clinical commissioning groups in the north of England, have adopted the Yorkshire and Humber Access to Infertility Treatment Policy rather than holding individual policies to ensure consistency across the region.

“The CCG has a legal duty to commission health services for the people of Vale of York which are evidence-based, cost effective, improve health outcomes, reduce health inequalities and represent value for money for the taxpayer.

“Criteria for this policy is based on guidance from a number of regulatory and advisory bodies and this is regularly reviewed to consider latest guidance.”