A survey by the National Infertility Awareness Campaign (NIAC) carried out in summer 2011 found that around one in 3 women entitled to NHS funded IVF were being denied this right.
More than 400 women attending fertility clinics in the UK were surveyed. Seventy-eight percent (78%) of respondents indicated that their GP was sympathetic and helpful, which is very positive. However, almost 50% of respondents also said that they felt their GP lacked the necessary knowledge of infertility and the treatment options available to provide an effective service. This could explain why some patients with fertility issues perceived their GPs as unsympathetic (22%).
Thirty eight percent (38 %) felt that they had been incorrectly denied treatment according to guidelines set out by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).
Of those who were referred to a specialist for IVF treatment, 27 percent had to wait over a year for treatment and 12 percent up to two years, further reducing their chances of conceiving.
Dr Clare Gerada, the chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, told the Guardian newspaper: ‘I don’t usually take very seriously surveys that show that GPs don’t know what they are doing but I agree with this survey. I’m surprised and worried that GPs aren’t sympathetic’.
The results of this survey are concerning. In our experience at Herts and Essex Fertility, local GPs have been very sympathetic, initiating fertility investigations and early referral for treatment where indicated.
With GPs at the forefront of commissioning from next year, we are engaging with local Clinical Commissioning groups to provide training and share experience with local GPs. We have also come forward as a qualified provider of fertility services, and hope to be treating NHS funded patients next year.