Clinicians tempt ‘IVF tourists’ to stay safe

A clinic which fears couples may use unregulated overseas clinics for cut-price IVF treatment has created a package which it hopes will temp them to stay at home – and stay safe.

Cambridge IVF, which is part of Cambridge University Hospitals, has unveiled a treatment called Multi-cycle IVF which competes favourably with the keenest on-line prices, but meets all-important National Institute of Clinical Guidelines (NICE) to give patients a genuine chance of success.

The package is specifically aimed at women who are struggling to conceive and consists of three rounds of IVF treatment under the watchful eye of clinicians qualified to the highest levels.

The Trumptington-based clinic says at between £6,740 and £8,990 for up to three cycles of IVF it will cover costs and tempt couples to think twice before heading overseas. Multi-cycle will only be offered to those patients who are likely to benefit, and the clinic will not entertain using any treatments or ‘IVF add-ons’ that are not clinically proven.

The package follows hot on the heels of another development this year called PURE IVF, which is aimed at women aged 38 or under with a BMI of 18 to 30, with no significant medical complexities and is overseen by specially trained fertility nurses. It costs £2,500 and – as with all Cambridge IVF treatments – all fees charged go straight into the NHS.

Service lead and Consultant Embryologist, Stephen Harbottle: “There is a lot of concern that patients desperate to start a family don’t really know what they need, what they are paying for, or what is safe.

“While there are some excellent overseas clinics, some aren’t regulated in the same way they are here. One of the dangers is that too many embryos are transferred leading to unsafe and unviable pregnancies. Ironically, this later presents problems for the NHS who manage these difficult pregnancies when the patients return home.

“We feel we must strive to change the situation. The public deserve access to affordable high quality healthcare for fertility issues, particularly when you consider fertility is classified by the World Healthcare Organisation as a disease – in this case a disease of the reproductive system. It is an illness just like any other.”

Lead consultant, Dr Alka Prakash, added: “It is every woman’s natural instinct to want children and it concerns us that some will go to any lengths to conceive, including using clinics that are not registered or offering treatments that are not clinically proven.

“We have worked hard to develop packages that compare well with any found online so that we can start a dialogue with woman around what is best for them, what is likely to deliver the results they so badly desire and, above all, what is safe.”

The initiatives are aimed at celebrating the 70th anniversary of the NHS and the 40th birthday year of Louise Brown, who is Britain’s first test tube baby. They come almost 12 months after many clinical commissioning groups withdrew funding for IVF treatment on the NHS, prompting concerns about where couples would go for treatment.


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