Chance to remove the postcode lottery for IVF funding in Mid and South Essex

There is currently a postcode lottery for patients seeking fertility treatment in Essex. Where you live, or who your GP is, can dictate whether or not you are eligible for NHS funding for IVF treatment. Now there is a chance to change this. 

The Mid and South Essex Integrated Care Board (ICB), has opened a consultation about how a fairer policy should be implemented. It is proposing to offer two cycles of funded IVF to all patients who meet the strict criteria.

This is your chance to influence policy – so do have your say.

Find out more about the consultation and a link to the survey at:

To take part in the consultation respond before 18th December 2022. Ask as many of your family and friends to respond, to show that others not directly affected also care about infertility.

Essex Postcodes Nov 2022 web version
Current postcode lottery for NHS-funded IVF in Essex
Current postcode lottery for NHS-funded IVF in Essex

Specialist fertility services include:

IUI – where ovaries are stimulated, and sperm directly inserted into a woman’s womb. The success rates are not as high as IVF but the treatment may be helpful for some people.

IVF – with or without ICSI – the ovaries are stimulated, and eggs collected. These are fertilised in the lab and one of the fresh embryos is used for treatment and any others are frozen. These can be thawed and used for further treatment as required. In this consultation ‘one cycle of IVF’ means one fresh and one frozen cycle.

Sperm and egg donation – donated sperm may be required where there is a male factor, for example no sperm or an inherited condition. Donated eggs may be required where the female has no or poor eggs, perhaps through medical or surgical treatment or premature menopause.

New proposals will benefit people in South and Mid Essex ICB

The new proposal is that all eligible couples in the region should be offered a maximum of two cycles of IVF (a cycle includes one fresh and one frozen embryo transfer), which will include donated sperm or eggs if required for treatment.

The funded treatment will also be available to same-sex couples who have fertility issues (other than a lack of sperm or eggs).

All couples would need to meet the following criteria, which will be applied consistently across the region (see consultation for full details).

  • Aged 23-39 – if you are 40-42 it will be reduced to one cycle.
  • Trying for two years unless diagnosed with infertility – if male or female factor infertility has been diagnosed to be referred immediately. Or, for unexplained infertility, after two years (or one year if aged 40-42).
  • Registered with GP for 12 months – the partner receiving IVF needs to have been registered with a GP in the ICB region.
  • BMI between 19-30 for women and below 35 for men.
  • Non-smoker
  • Same sex eligible if infertile – if there is an infertility issue or six failed cycles of self-funded IUI then couple should have access to two cycles of IVF.
  • No children – this applies even when children from previous relationship are not living with the couple.
  • IUI is not funded

Have your views heard

The closing date of the consultation is 18th December 2022. Ask as many of your family and friends to respond to show that others not directly affected also care about infertility.

Take part:

Nb. The Mid and South Essex Integrated Care Board (ICB) is responsible for healthcare across the region. The consultation follows a short survey in August 2022 that revealed residents across the county wanted fairness and equity when accessing NHS services. They also thought that when deciding on funding services consideration should be given to the emotional impact of infertility on people’s lives. If you agree with these views then please do mention this in your response to the survey.

More information

More information about the consultation

Bourn Hall has a full service fertility clinic offering NHS funded and self funded IVF and other fertility treatments based in Wickford and a further satellite in Colchester.  It is the only NHS provider to offer all appointments, egg collection and embryo transfer in the same clinic with the same team.

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