The Qualifications For National Health Service Treatment

The qualifications for NHS treatment vary from one health authority to another and from time to time. Unfortunately sometimes GPs and other hospital doctors do not know the criteria that apply in their area, so it is worth checking them out with your health authority. Those most frequently applied include the following:

Restrictions on medical conditions

Often treatment is restricted to women with blocked fallopian tubes. Sometimes standards are set for men’s sperm quality. Usually couples who have been sterilised are excluded from treatment.

Age limits

Usually there is an upper, but sometimes also a lower, age limit for women and occasionally an upper age limit for men. Women over 38 often do not qualify, on the basis that after this the chances of success are much diminished.

Weight limits for women

This is on the basis that excess weight diminishes the chances of success.

Duration of infertility

Often health authorities stipulate that a couple must have been trying to have a child for a given number of years.

Limits to the number of treatment cycles

Occasionally the limit is one treatment cycle only, more usually it is three. Where embryo freezing is available, each attempt will usually include freezing of surplus embryos and their transfer back to the woman.

Limits on children in the household

Often there is a requirement that there should be no other children living in the household. This may be extended to include children born from earlier relationships of either partner – hitting couples who are trying to have a family in a second marriage. It also sometimes includes adoptive children.

Restrictions in cases of child abuse

Some doctors say that they will not provide treatment to couples where one or other partner has a conviction involving any form of child abuse, or where a previous child has been taken into care. This issue is also mentioned by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, but it is not usually included among health authority criteria.

Ban on single parents

Most health authorities confine treatment to heterosexual couples – and some specify married couples. Usually they say the couple must be in a stable relationship. Sometimes they specify the number of years needed to qualify as ‘stable’ and if so, it’s normally three.