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21 April 2010, 06:00
The number of patients approved for IVF in Berkshire has nearly doubled, since changes to the way it was offered last December.
Women across the South Central region now have access to the same treatment: one IVF cycle if you are aged between 30-34.
Previously, the age at which you could receive IVF depended on which part of the South Central region you lived. In Hampshire, it was 36-39 years and in Berkshire it was 35-38 years.
Heart has been shown figures for the number of patients approved for IVF in Berkshire in the first 3 months of this year compared to the same time last year. This is what we found out:
NHS Berkshire West:
January-March 2009: 14 patients approved
January-March 2010: 36 patients approved
East Berkshire PCT:
January-March 2009: 22 patients approved
January-March 2010: 29 patients approved
The figures show that since the changes were brought in, the number of patients approved for IVF treatment in Berkshire has nearly doubled.
Christine Milne from Reading has been through the fertility programme, "In principle the way IVF is now offered is fairer than before. I found it immensely difficult to find out what applied and what didn't apply. But the Nice guidelines are for 3 cycles of IVF treatment regardless and there are some places where that applies. But not here."
Listen to Christine's story
The changes were brought in after a detailed consultation and at the time, South Central NHS told Heart the new way they offered IVF meant more couples who were treated would be successful, because fertility is higher in women in their early thirties compared to those who are older.
But Christine said she does not think this will work in practical terms, "Many couples will try for years to get pregnant before realising they may need to have IVF. They could be past the 34 year old cut off limit by the time they realise they need help. Also, in modern society, many people do not settle down and find the person they are going to have children with until they are in their 30's. By not letting couples over 34 have IVF on the NHS it means these people could be left heartbroken."
Christine told Heart she would like to see a new method of approving patients, "It would be fairer if there was some way of means-testing. Obviously there are some people who can afford IVF and would get it regardless. But there are others who can't afford it privately and need it on the NHS. These people will have to give up if they can't get IVF treatment through their PCT."
What do you think about the changes? Let us know below...