Fertility Treatment Add Ons
The Panorama programme on 28th November 2016 raised concerns around the evidence behind the ‘add on treatments’ often offered to patients undergoing fertility treatment.
The researchers stated
“Nearly all costly add-on treatments offered by UK fertility clinics to increase the chance of a birth through IVF are not supported by high-quality evidence”
Many of these options are expensive and, particularly where NHS fertility treatment is not being offered, can put a huge financial burden on those funding their treatment. The programme raised many issues and highlighted what patient organisations such as Fertility Network UK have been advocating for many years – patients need good quality information and advice, and should be offered treatment which is based on sound medical evidence backed by randomised clinical trials. In the absence of such evidence, patients should be given clear information, including details of any potential risks or harm from the treatment. The potential benefits in their particular case should be discussed clearly with them, to allow them to make an informed decision, with their clinician, on whether they wish to proceed (and pay for) any add on options. At the end of the day, patient choice is important but only following good quality advice and information on the best possible option for you.
What do the experts say? Dr Yakoub Khalaf, from King’s College London, points out that “what does not add value to treatment should not add to the bill”
The final comment in the programme was provided by Professor Adam Balen, chair of the British Fertility Society. Professor Balen stated: “It is important that patients receive full information about everything that is being offered, the current evidence for benefit and whether there are any side effects or risks associated with it.”
Good quality information on add on treatments, including PGS and immunology is provided by the HFEA http://www.hfea.gov.uk/
And by the British Fertility Society https://britishfertilitysociety.org.uk/public-resources/
NHS Choices has an excellent summary with links to the full report and main news articles
Fertility Network UK has a network of regional staff, as well as a free Support Line, for further support and information. Details of all our services are available on the website.