The new NICE (National Institute of Clinical Excellence) guidelines for infertility are to be issued shortly. These are guidelines based on recent medical evidence which advises best practice. The previous guidelines for fertility were published in 2004.
A lot of things have happened since then and many advances have been made, particularly in terms of outcomes in older patients. It is probably because of this that the recommendations suggest that women should now be offered at least one cycle of IVF treatment up to the age of 42. Previously the upper age limit was 39.
This is very welcome news and fully supported by medical staff. However, irrespective of what the medical staff think, we can only offer the treatment if funding is available and this of course has always been an issue in fertility therapy which is consisently seen as very high profile but low priority work.
We are very fortunate at Liverpool Women's because NHS funding is far better than in other areas of the country. However, the demand far outweighs the supply and it is our ongoing challenge to make fertility therapy more widely available particularly in the areas where the NICE guidelines suggested should be directed.