For patients who can’t get fertility treatment paid for by the NHS – which is the majority - the 6th annual Fertility Show, backed by leading patient support charity Infertility Network UK, opens in London next weekend.
For the 60% of IVF cycles in the UK which are paid for privately*, the burden of choosing and paying for fertility treatment falls on patients themselves.
With IVF success-rates for 35+ year old women no better than one in three*, embarking on fertility treatment not only involves an emotional rollercoaster and physical trauma, but also a substantial and sometimes crippling financial cost. Often patients undergoing 3-5 IVF cycles pay upwards of £15,000 - £30,000 in total.
Cost of treatment, then, is key but prices are not always consistent, with significant variations across the 80 or so HFEA-licensed fertility clinics in the UK.
Lord Robert Winston, one of the world’s leading fertility experts, a vocal campaigner for lower cost fertility treatment and a speaker at this year’s Fertility Show, was quoted this week saying that a cycle of IVF can be done for just £1,000. This compares with the UK average of about £5k paid by private patients.
If that price differential isn’t confusing enough, it seems even NHS Commissioning Groups – on the occasions they do pay for fertility treatment – struggle to buy it efficiently. A recent report by patient campaigning group Fertility Fairness suggested that what they pay varies greatly, ranging from £2,900 to £6,000 per cycle**.
With price a key factor then, no surprises that fertility tourism is on the up. Now it’s not just patients in search of egg donors heading for Spain or the US for treatment. Many European and US clinics offer state of the art laboratories, excellent success records and first class care at a substantial discount to UK prices. And more of them than ever before are represented at this year’s Fertility Show.
As well as some of the leading UK fertility clinics, exhibitors this year include over 20 top clinics from Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Norway, The Czech Republic, USA, Russia and the Caribbean. All are competing for the lucrative UK fertility patient, many of whom have been deserted by the NHS.
Susan Seenan, Chief Executive of patient support charity Infertility Network UK, says;
“We would obviously prefer all patients to be able to access fertility treatment on the NHS. But where this isn’t available, and patients have to pay for private treatment they need to make an informed choice about where to access that treatment and the Fertility Show offers visitors outstanding access to the best expertise and advice”.
“In some cases, the right decision for individuals may be to go overseas and whilst there’s nothing wrong with going abroad for treatment there are a lot of issues to take into account and you have to do your homework first - the Fertility Show is a good place to start”.
Amongst the 70 leading fertility specialists taking part in seminars this year are;
Lord Robert Winston
Stuart Lavery, Hammersmith Hospital NHS
Yacoub Khalaf, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS
Geeta Nargund, St George’s Hospital NHS
Professor Lesley Regan, St Mary’s Hospital NHS
Sam Abdalla, Lister Fertility Clinic
Professor Simon Fishel, CARE Group
Rachel Cutting, Centre for Reproductive Medicine Sheffield NHS
Tarek El-Touky, Guy’s and St Thomas’s NHS
Anil Gudi, Homerton Hospital NHS
Allan Pacey, University of Sheffield
Dimitrios Nikolaou, Chelsea and Westminster NHS
Michael Booker, Croydon NHS University Hospital
The Fertility Show.
Sat & Sun, November 1-2, 2014.
Olympia Exhibition Centre, London W14.
Part of National Fertility Awareness Week, Oct 27 – Nov 2, 2014. #NFAWUK
Admission £11. Seminars an additional £1 each.
(Over 7,000 seminar seats booked in 2013).
More information from;
Jonathan Scott, MD, The Fertility Show
0207 993 4180
More information on Infertility Network UK from;
Susan Seenan, Chief Executive, Infertility Network UK
* latest (2012) HFEA data
**Data available from Fertility Fairness website at http://www.fertilityfairness.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/0...
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