Women to be offered one free IVF treatment from 2005

Thousands of women could get one free IVF treatment following new NHS guidelines, the health department has announced today.

The guidelines from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) will mean that: all women aged between 23 and 39 who meet the clinical criteria will get at least one full cycle of IVF from April 2005; and couples who do not already have a child living with them will get priority.

According to official figures, one-in-seven couples experience problems when trying for a baby.

Health Secretary John Reid said: "I am glad that NICE itself recognises that the NHS cannot reasonably make this expansion overnight. Our immediate priority must be to ensure a national level of provision of IVF is available wherever people live."

He said that offering at least one full cycle of treatment to all those eligible by next April was the first step.

"In the longer term I would expect the NHS to make progress towards full implementation of the NICE guidance."

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence is part of the NHS and its role is to provide patients, health professionals and the public with guidance on current best practice.


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