Staffordshire & Stoke-on-Trent approve fertility policy that is the worst in UK

Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent integrated care board (ICB) has approved a new interim fertility policy which offers the bare minimum of NHS-funded help – just one embryo transfer for women aged 23-40 – and makes accessing NHS fertility treatment harder or impossible for other groups. The new policy comes into force on 1 February 2024.

National (but not mandatory) guidance states women under 40 should be able to access 3 FULL IVF cycles, where a full IVF cycle includes the transfer of ALL viable embryos created following ovarian stimulation.

What Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent ICB will provide in this new policy is a partial IVF cycle, where they stipulate the number of embryo transfers – 1 – that can take place, irrespective of how many embryos are created following ovarian transfer. Providing the bare minimum of embryo transfers – just one – makes this policy from Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent ICB the worst IVF policy in England.

As well as offering the least possible amount of treatment for women aged 23-40, the ICB is cutting access in the following ways: Women aged 40-42 are excluded from the policy. Single women are excluded – the policy states it is only for individuals ‘in a stable relationship’ Female same-sex couples have to pay for six IUI cycles within 12 months and, if they go on to access NHS-funded IVF, they then have to pay for donor sperm. There is also the suggestion that both women in the couple may have to ‘prove’ their infertility.

If a heterosexual or female same-sex couple need donor eggs as part of their treatment, perhaps because of premature ovarian insufficiency (early menopause), this is not provided and couples must fund donor eggs themselves. Male same-sex couples are excluded. The policy also states that women over 35 will have to have an AMH test >3 before they can access NHS-funded fertility treatment.

Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent ICB covers the following areas: Stoke-on-Trent – where fertility patients could previously access two partial IVF cycles (one fresh embryo transfer and one frozen embryo transfer) North Staffs Stafford and surrounds Cannock Chase East Staffs South East Staffs & Seisdon Peninsula

National guidance from the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) says women under 40 should be able to access three full IVF cycles (a full cycle is the transfer of a fresh embryo and all viable frozen embryos). Women aged 40-42 should be able to access one full IVF cycle.

If you are affected by this very poor fertility policy and are happy to share your story with the media, in order to help raise awareness of this situation, please email Claudia at with brief details of your situation and how to contact you.

Details of the changes are available here