IVF Financial Exploitation Exposed
UK IVF clinics are charging for costly “add on” treatments which do nothing to improve a woman’s chances of having a baby. This is according to a BBC 'Panorama' programme which claimed UK clinics charge customers for a wide variety of “add on” treatments such as pre-implantation genetic screening and transfer of a “mock” embryo, as well as various drug treatments for blood clotting and immunity. The programme reviewed 38 interventions offered by private clinics, and found most of them are not supported by good evidence.
The NHS watchdog, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), only provides clear recommendations for the use of 13 of these treatments. Most of these should only be used in specific circumstances. Systematic reviews have been carried out for 27 interventions. But there is only evidence that a handful actually improve live birth rates. Even then, the underlying studies behind the reviews have quality issues.
Dr John Waterstone of the Cork Fertility Centre said that the Health Department needs to be aware that an aspect of assisted reproduction (AR), which urgently requires regulation, is the potential “financial exploitation” of clents desperate to have a baby. “The increasing commercialisation of AR everywhere has not been addressed sufficiently by regulatory systems in other jurisdictions, but needs to be in Ireland,” he said.
A spokesman for the Department of Health said overcharging claims had not come to its attention. He said the Medical Council’s guide to professional conduct and ethics sets out the principles of professional practice all doctors registered with the council are now expected to follow—and this includes a duty of care to all fertility clinic patients.
Irish Independent. November 30.