Mid and South Essex removes postcode lottery for NHS IVF funding

The postcode lottery for NHS IVF funding has been removed from Mid and South Essex following a decision by the Mid and South Essex Integrated Care Board (ICB). It has confirmed that patients that meet the NHS criteria will now be eligible for up to two full cycles of IVF from 1st April 2023.

Bourn Hall provides NHS funded IVF treatment across Essex from its clinics in Wickford, Colchester and Cambridge and is offering a review for patients that may now be eligible for treatment.

Professor Arpita Ray, Clinical Lead at Bourn Hall Essex, comments: “Many people that require fertility treatment have been living in limbo waiting to see if NHS IVF treatment will be reinstated. The decision to remove the postcode lottery now makes it possible for them to seek the help they so desperately need to start their families.

“To support these patients, we are offering those that have had fertility testing, with or without a diagnosis, a review of their fertility journey and medical history. This information will enable them to make a decision about their next steps and bring them closer to their dreams.”

Dr Jitendra Jadhav, Dr Humera Zaheen and Dr Arpita Ray
Dr Jitendra Jadhav, Dr Humera Zaheen and Dr Arpita Ray - Consultants at Bourn Hall Essex in Wickford

Other forms of support

Not everyone needing treatment will be eligible for funding – perhaps your BMI is too high – but it is still worth getting in touch to discuss your options. Bourn Hall offers a consultation with a nutritionist to help achieve a healthy BMI and there are options such as egg sharing or sperm donation that may make treatment more accessible for those not able to access NHS funding.

Are you eligible for NHS funded IVF? If you meet the NHS criteria below then you might be. The final decision will be made by your NHS consultant, but Contact us to have a Discovery Call to discuss your personal situation and gain advice on the next steps.

NHS IVF funding for Essex

The decision last night (9th February 2023) was made by the board of the Mid and South Essex Integrated Care Board, which has replaced the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG), each of which had a different policy – for example, in Chelmsford there was no funding but in Thurrock there were two funded cycles, and in Southend one funded cycle.

Katy and her husband Leigh were among those affected by the lottery – the couple were not eligible for NHS-funded IVF treatment when they moved to a house in Essex five miles up the road from their previous one. They wrote to their local MP, Mark Francois, and also Matt Hancock, who was Health Secretary at the time, to lobby for equal NHS funding of IVF in Essex.

Katy says: “Wow, this is amazing news. This is going to be so positive for a lot of people.”

Katy and Charlie
Katy and Charlie

Criteria for NHS IVF funding from 1st April 2023

Couples considered eligible by their NHS consultant will be offered: a maximum of two full cycles of IVF (and or ICSI) where the partner receiving treatment is between the ages of 23 and 39.

Where the partner is between the age of 40-42, a maximum of one full cycle will be offered.

A full cycle is defined as up to one fresh and one frozen embryo transfer. This will include the cost of freezing and storage. For patients who do not achieve a live birth with the fresh embryo transfer, the transfer of one frozen embryo will be funded. Any previous IVF cycles, whether self- or NHS-funded, will count towards the total number offered by the ICB.

Locations within 40 minutes of a Bourn Hall clinic in Essex
Three ICBs cover Essex - Mid and South Essex ICB is in the middle of this map.


(taken from Part 1 ICB Board Papers 9th February Page 22)

The age of partner receiving treatment at the time that the embryos are frozen is required to be within the age limits set out in the policy. This also applies to the age at transfer. Patients younger than 23 will be considered where investigations have shown conception would be impossible without fertility treatment.

Cause of infertility: Couples who have been diagnosed as having a male factor or female factor problems or have had unexplained infertility for at least two years, taking into consideration both age and waiting list times. Where the partner receiving IVF is 40-42, the period of unexplained infertility should be at least one year.

Registration: The partner receiving IVF should have been registered to an MSE practice for at least 12 months preceding referral to IVF services.

BMI: Women will only be considered for treatment if their BMI is between 19-30 (Kg/m2). Men with a BMI of >35 will not be considered for treatment.

Smoking: Couples must be non-smoking at the time of treatment.

Living children: Fertility treatment will only be offered where there are no living children in the current relationship or where neither partner has children from previous relationships.

Same-sex couples: If six cycles of privately funded IUI have been unsuccessful, demonstrating infertility, the couple will be eligible for IVF.

Donor gametes: Up to one batch (usually six) of donor oocytes and one batch of sperm will be funded.

Frozen embryos: Where more than two viable embryos are generated, up to two transfers will be funded in line with the rest of the policy. Any remaining embryos will be subject to the same criteria as if the oocytes were the couple’s own.

Intrauterine insemination (IUI) will not be funded.

More information

Contact us for a free Essex Discovery Call. Make sure to include ‘Discovery Call’ in the subject of your email.

Find out more about Bourn Hall’s clinics offering IVF in Essex.

Heavy, painful or irregular periods are a common indication of infertility – but often there are no symptoms. Find out more about causes of female infertility.

Having mumps, a sporting injury, or testicles that look like a bag of worms can be indicators of male infertility, but a low sperm count often comes as a shock – find out more about common causes of male infertility.

Low sperm count can be improved with lifestyle changes and sperm can found with a minor operation, even after a vasectomy, so do seek more information from a male fertility specialist if you are given this diagnosis.

Find the Integrated Care Board which covers your area on the NHS website.

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