* Over 8 out of 10 PCTs are failing to follow National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines which say that 3 full cycles of IVF treatment should be provided to infertile couples. 2 PCTs have even admitted to not providing any IVF treatment at all in the last two years.
* 1 in 8 PCTs fails to comply with NICE guidelines with regards to the age of the female partner. This means that there is still a bizarre postcode lottery which sees the same woman being too old for treatment in one area and too young in another.
* Over half of all PCTs refuses to give treatment to couples with existing children, even if the partner in question was widowed.
The report is based on FOI responses from more than 80% of PCTs and is the most comprehensive picture of IVF provision in Britain since a similar piece of work Shapps carried out two years ago. He told me last night...
"When couples go through IVF they face enough emotional and worries without discovering that Prime Ministerial promises of three cycles of IVF on the NHS just aren't true. The Health Service has many priorities and some people will argue that it should primarily be about saving, rather than creating, life. However what is cruel about the current situation is that government has raised expectations only to let people down. What we desperately need is greater honesty from politicians about what can be delivered rather than headline grabbing promises which are casually broken."
Shapps speaks with some authority on this subject since he and his wife have three chldren via IVF before the NHS provided any assistance at all.