COUPLES struggling to conceive are being offered half price IVF.

The new service will be available to people who meet the criteria in north Essex and Suffolk early next year.

Typically the treatment privately costs at least £5,000 - but the NHS trust offering the Pure service says it has been able to keep the cost lower as it is nurse-led and based at an NHS setting at Ipswich Hospital.

However, one private IVF clinic has described the service as "cherry picking" patients because it excludes many types of patient who are arguably just as deserving of the treatment.

NHS-funded IVF has not been available in North Essex since it was axed by the Clinical Commissioning Group in 2015, except for couples with complex health needs.

Couples still have to pay for the Pure treatment themselves, which involves one round of IVF.

It includes a "package" of IVF, drugs, sedation, scans and the compulsory licence fee and counselling.

Its experts say it has the same success rate as other privately funded options.

The fertility team at Ipswich Hospital is delivering it in partnership with leading experts at Cambridge IVF, part of Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

Patients start their treatment at Ipswich Hospital and go to the specialist Cambridge centre for egg collection an embryo transfer.

The fertility team is part of the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Colchester and Ipswich Hospitals.

But Dr Mike Macnamee, chief executive of Bourn Hall Clinic, which offers privately-funded IVF in Colchester, criticised said: “Whilst welcoming any initiative that gives more patients access to fertility services, it is sad that some NHS hospitals are ‘cherry picking’ self-funding IVF patients.

“Pure IVF is a service offered by Cambridge IVF, which is an NHS facility, therefore its overheads and staff costs are paid for by the taxpayer.

“This package isn’t as straightforward as it seems. Pure IVF excludes older patients, those with irregular periods, Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, low sperm counts, low ovarian reserve and other medical issues."

Dr Macnamee said there would be "hidden charges" for those that need ICSI [ a sperm injection into the egg], which is between 50 to 80 per cent of all IVF cycles.

"It is unclear what support is offered to patients that are rejected after paying for testing to check their eligibility," he added.

"Patients that take up this package will have to travel to Cambridge for egg collection and embryo transfer – this is the most stressful part of the treatment.”

Dr Macnamee said according to latest results released by the HFEA (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority) from July 2012 to June 2015, Cambridge IVF had 50 live births from 261 cycles of treatment.

This is a success rate of 19 per cent - well below the national average of 27 per cent.

But the hospital trust's fertility consultant Djavid Alleemudder said: “We are offering a lot more than people realise.

"We have an excellent and expanding fertility service for couples who are struggling to conceive.”

One in every six couples will experience difficulty conceiving.

National Institute for Heath and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends that eligible couples should have access to three IVF cycles - as the chances of having a baby fall with the number of unsuccessful cycles of IVF.

  •  Fertility experts will be on hand to talk to anyone at any stage of their journey to conceive about Pure, as well as fertility health and wellbeing, at an information event at Ipswich Hospital on Tuesday 30 October from 6pm to 8pm.

'We're making very little financial gain'

A FERTILITY expert has hit back at claims the NHS is set to “cherry pick” patients to receive cheap IVF treatment.

Dr Djavid Alleemudder, fertility specialist at Ipswich Hospital, has defended the trust’s new scheme, which will see couples who meet certain criteria offered the treatment for around £2,500.

Dr Alleemudder said different circumstances affected people’s ability to get pregnant and some couples would need more treatment than others to get pregnant.

“Some people might view it like cherry-picking however the other side to that is that it is offering these patients IVF treatment which is less of a financial burden,” he said.

“The NHS is not making a large financial gain from offering IVF to patients.

“When compared with some private clinics which offer the service, the profit margins are small.”

Dr Alleemudder said there were several over schemes available depending on individual couple’s circumstances.

He said: “We offer a threecycle course of IVF which costs £9,000 and there are refunds available if couples get pregnant within the first two.”

More information on Pure IVF and its criteria is at