The independent expert group on the commissioning of NHS fertility provision, which produced an interim report in 2008 and a commissioning aid in 2009, has now published its final report entitled Final report of the Expert Group on Commissioning NHS Infertility Provision.

The group’s remit was to identify the barriers to the implementation of the NICE fertility guideline published in 2004 (CG11) and to produce commissioning support for primary care trusts (PCTs), to encourage stepwise progression towards full implementation.  

The group’s previous work identified the potential benefit of developing a national tariff for regulated fertility services. The final report confirms that this is now under way and scheduled for introduction in 2012.  

In terms of further steps to maintain progress, the group made the following recommendations:  

  • While a national tariff for services is being developed, there should be an interim measure to help PCTs to assess whether the prices they are paying locally are a fair reflection of the national pattern, and whether local discussions with providers could result in greater cost effectiveness for the benefit of patients. To this end, data on local tariffs and prices would be gathered from PCTs, by the national tariff working group, and shared on an anonymous basis.  
  • That research to gain information on the ways in which fertility patients themselves would prioritise improvements in the provision of services, commissioned by the department, be published once completed.  
  • That the Department of Health (DH) considers commissioning research into the impact of infertility on the medium and long term health, including psychological health, of those affected.  
  • That the DH carries out further regular surveys in order to monitor progress in the provision of NHS fertility services.