England's first non-profit IVF clinic to open in London

England’s first not-for-profit IVF clinic will open in London to combat the NHS ‘postcode lottery’ and dubious costly ‘add-ons’ offered by private centres

  • British Pregnancy Advisory Service are setting up a non-profit fertility clinic 
  • Organisation is better known for helping women terminate their pregnancies 
  • Hope to address fertility inequality in the UK caused by IVF ‘postcode lottery’ 
  • Central London clinic will open in 2021 for egg collection and embryo transfers

England’s first not-for-profit IVF clinic will open next year to help address fertility inequality in the UK. 

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), an organisation better known for helping women terminate pregnancies, will open its first clinic in London and will only the true cost of treatment, which it estimates will be between £3,000-£3,500 per IVF cycle, not including drugs. 

By doing so, the BPAS hopes undercut private clinics which can rack up the cost of treatment with dubious ‘add-ons’. 

The organisation also plans to counteract the unfair IVF ‘postcode lottery’ women and couples experience on the NHS by not placing restrictions on the age of the mother, relationship status, or financial situation.   

England’s first non-profit IVF clinic will open in London next year to help address fertility inequality in the UK. Stock image

Katherine O’Brien, associate director of communications and campaigns at BPAS,  compared the provision of IVF in 2020 to the back street abortions of the 60s, and branded some pricey private clinics ‘snake oil salesmen’.   

She told the Guardian: ‘Some private providers also didn’t provide ethical services and were more like snake oil salesmen than medical professionals. 

‘While not as extreme as the backstreet abortions of the 1960s, it is clear that some private IVF providers are encouraging patients to undergo clinically unproven treatments at a huge personal and financial cost.’

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends women in England and Wales aged under 40 should be offered three cycles of IVF treatment on the NHS if they meet their guidelines.  

Women must have been trying to get pregnant through regular unprotected sex for two years or must have been unable to get pregnant after 12 cycles of artificial insemination. 

However individual NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) make the final decision about who can have NHS-funded IVF in their local area – meaning several women are falling victim to the ‘postcode lottery’ of IVF. 

In August it was revealed that women seeking IVF treatment on the NHS, in some areas of England, must prove they are in a three-year ‘stable’ relationship to get funding. 

In Cornwall, a patient must have a partner of two years and be in a ‘financially interdependent’ relationship to be eligible for treatment, according to the policy for Kernow CCG. But in Devon, single women are allowed IVF on the NHS.

The new clinic will charge the true cost of treatment, £3,000 and £3,500 for each cycle without drugs and will not make available pricey and possibly unsafe IVF ‘add-ons’. 

Several couples in the UK, desperate for a baby, have been pressured into buying add ons such as ‘time-lapse imaging’ which costs up to £795 and ‘assisted hatching’, costing up to £600, with no warning they may not work. 

The BPAS central London clinic will open its doors in September 2021 for egg collection and embryo transfers. 

No woman will be turned away for being too old – however there will be frank and honest conversations with each client about their likelihood of conceiving. 

Scans and other appointments will be held at satellite clinics in existing BPAS centres outside of the capital. They will use separate entrances and different clinics for women who wish to terminate their pregnancy. 

HOW DOES IVF WORK?

In-vitro fertilisation, known as IVF, is a medical procedure in which a woman has an already-fertilised egg inserted into her womb to become pregnant.

It is used when couples are unable to conceive naturally, and a sperm and egg are removed from their bodies and combined in a laboratory before the embryo is inserted into the woman.

Once the embryo is in the womb, the pregnancy should continue as normal.

The procedure can be done using eggs and sperm from a couple or those from donors. 

Guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that IVF should be offered on the NHS to women under 43 who have been trying to conceive through regular unprotected sex for two years.

People can also pay for IVF privately, which costs an average of £3,348 for a single cycle, according to figures published in January 2018, and there is no guarantee of success.

The NHS says success rates for women under 35 are about 29 per cent, with the chance of a successful cycle reducing as they age.

Around eight million babies are thought to have been born due to IVF since the first ever case, British woman Louise Brown, was born in 1978.

Chances of success

The success rate of IVF depends on the age of the woman undergoing treatment, as well as the cause of the infertility (if it’s known).

Younger women are more likely to have a successful pregnancy. 

IVF isn’t usually recommended for women over the age of 42 because the chances of a successful pregnancy are thought to be too low.

Between 2014 and 2016 the percentage of IVF treatments that resulted in a live birth was:

29 per cent for women under 35

23 per cent for women aged 35 to 37

15 per cent for women aged 38 to 39

9 per cent for women aged 40 to 42

3 per cent for women aged 43 to 44

2 per cent for women aged over 44

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