27 February 2004
The NHS will implement new in vitro fertilisation guidance but it may take a number of years, Health Secretary John Reid warned this week.
On February 25, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (Nice) published guidelines indicating that the health service should offer women three cycles of IVF treatment free.
However, Reid stepped in, following fears that the widespread implementation of the guidance would cost too much. The health secretary said that from April 2005 all primary care trusts should allow eligible women to have at least one cycle. It is estimated that this will cost the NHS around £85m.
Reid made it clear that next April's target was 'a first step'. A plan for full implementation would be examined after next year's deadline.
He added: 'In the longer term, I would expect the NHS to make progress towards full implementation of the Nice guidance. In providing this NHS service, our priority must be to help those in greatest need. That is why I will be asking the NHS to give priority to couples who do not have any children.'