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Fertility services

North east London fertility policy

The north east London fertility policy replaced the previous five different policies across the area. The single policy means that all eligible people registered with a GP in north east London are able to access the same fertility treatment – this was not previously the case.

The policy was approved by the NHS North East London Integrated Care Board in November 2022 and came into effect on 3 April 2023.

There are many treatments that can support people to try to get pregnant, some of which are paid for by the NHS. The main treatment areas where we have made changes to our policy are:

  • Increased access to in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and the number of cycles available:
    • All eligible people aged under 40 are now entitled to up to three full IVF cycles. Previously people in Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge (BHR) were entitled to one embryo transfer only.
    • The upper age limit to access IVF treatment has been increased by one year. All eligible people aged 40, 41 and 42 are now entitled to one full IVF cycle. Previously this was not funded for people aged 40 and over in BHR nor for people aged 42 in other areas of north east London.
  • Increased funding for intrauterine insemination (IUI) for eligible people:
    • Trying to get pregnant using donor insemination who have fertility problems. IUI was not previously funded for these people.
    • With some conditions and social, cultural or religious objections to IVF. IUI was not previously funded for these people.
    • With a physical disability or psychosexual problem.
    • With a condition that means they need IUI as part of their fertility treatment.
  • Increased the length of time the local NHS will fund the storage of eggs, sperm and embryos in cases of fertility preservation to:
    • Up to their 43rd birthday for people aged under 32.
    • Up to 10 years for people aged 32 and over.
    • Previously storage was funded for the first 10 years in Tower Hamlets and for the first five years in other areas of north east London.

The policy was developed using the latest national clinical guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), research and best practice. Clinicians, including GPs and fertility experts also helped to shape it and it was subject to a public engagement exercise. You can find out more about the engagement in this report.

Eligibility criteria

The policy is for both individuals and couples with a fertility problem, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or relationship status, and applies to people who are registered with a GP in Barking and Dagenham, City of London, Hackney, Havering, Newham, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets or Waltham Forest.

You can only be referred for fertility treatments if you meet the eligibility criteria outlined in the policy and when all appropriate tests and investigations have been successfully completed in line with national NICE guidelines.

If you have previously received treatment and think you are now eligible for more, please speak to your GP who will re-refer you for further treatment, if appropriate.

If you are already undergoing or have already been referred for NHS-funded fertility treatment, you will not be disadvantaged by the new policy.

If you are concerned about your fertility, please contact your GP for advice.

Treatment providers

You are able to choose to have fertility treatment at any NHS-commissioned treatment provider. Local people often use the following providers:

If you would like advice about which provider to use, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) website may be helpful.

Mental health and wellbeing support

Fertility and fertility problems are a highly personal and emotive topic, and every person has different needs and expectations of what support the NHS should provide. With this in mind, we acknowledge that our policy doesn’t address all of the concerns of some local people. However, we believe it does address inequalities across north east London, while prioritising treatment for people with proven fertility issues.

Though the new policy makes more people eligible for NHS-funded fertility treatment, it doesn’t guarantee that they will be successful. These treatments don’t always work, which can be hugely disappointing and upsetting. For example, for people aged under 43 the national success rates of IVF range from 11-32% depending on their age.

We believe counselling is an essential part of fertility treatment and our hospital providers will encourage people to see a counsellor and offer them an appointment with one. Across north east London there are free and confidential adult mental health services that provide support from an expert team who will work with people to help them feel better. For more information about the mental health and wellbeing support available in north east London, please visit our mental health pages.

National Women’s Health Strategy

We recognise and welcome the ambitions set out in the government’s Women’s Health Strategy around NHS support to try to get pregnant which was announced in July 2022, after the engagement began on our proposed new fertility policy. We await more detail on the strategy, the relevant commissioning guidance and how it will impact on our policy, which we will review as appropriate.

Useful websites

Attachments