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A man’s weight, age and other “arbitrary criteria” should not be used to ration access to NHS fertility services such as IVF, a campaign group has said.

Fertility Fairness said England’s Clinical Commission Groups (CCGs) are rationing access to NHS fertility services by setting their own access criteria, including male body mass index (BMI) and age.

It said these criteria do not form part of the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence’s (Nice) fertility guidelines and should not be used to determine who can or cannot be referred for IVF or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).

Fertility Fairness said its 2018 audit of England’s 195 CCGs reveals that more than a quarter (27 per cent) now use a man’s BMI to determine whether a couple can be referred for IVF on the NHS.

Fourteen CCGs (8 per cent) stipulate men must be aged below 55 in order to have NHS fertility treatment.

A quarter of CCGs insist a woman’s anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) level and/or antral follicle count (AFC) is at a specific level, and 91 per cent do not allow couples to access IVF on the NHS if one of the couple has a child from a previous relationship, which it described as social rationing.

As well as introducing extra “access to NHS IVF” criteria, the vast majority of CCGs (87 per cent) ration NHS fertility services by refusing to provide the recommended three full IVF cycles, the group added.

Nice recommends government funding for three full IVF cycles, but funding varies across the country and access is often described as a postcode lottery.

It means six out of 10 IVF cycles in the UK are funded by patients themselves, according to the the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG).

Fertility Fairness said seven CCGs (3.6 per cent) have removed NHS IVF entirely (all are in the south), while 20 per cent offer one full IVF cycle and 40 per cent offer only one partial IVF cycle (transferring a finite number of embryos). Read more

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