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Saturday, 13 April, 2002, 03:54 GMT 04:54 UK
IVF clinics 'must pay NHS bills'
Clinics are being asked to implant two embryos at most
Fertility clinics are being warned they must start paying towards the multi-million pound NHS bill for twins and triplets born as a result of IVF treatment.

Twins are three times more likely than single babies to need intensive care and triplets seven times more likely, costing the NHS an estimated 60m each year.

Former chairwoman of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) Ruth Deech reportedly says that new financial penalties are needed to curb too many multiple births.

In an interview with The Times she is quoted as saying the NHS had to "carry the burden of multiple birth" resulting from IVF treatment.


Leading IVF doctors, who charge up to 3,000 for each attempt, have criticised the suggestion.

They say it would wreck the hopes of women above the age of 35, who often need three or more to create one baby - with the small risk of a multiple pregnancy.

One way of compensating the NHS would be through a compulsory insurance scheme for IVF clinics.

They are currently not insured for the prospect of sick or disabled babies being born.

Delivery costs

In 1985 only 105 sets of triplets were born in the UK but in 2000 the figure had risen to 285, according to The Times.

A study in 1999 put the hospital cost of ten-week premature triplets at 450,000, it also reported.

As head HFEA, Professor Deech introduced a code of practice which said clinics were only allowed to implant a maximum of two embryos in all but exceptional circumstances.

According to The Times, research suggests the new code could save the NHS 7.5m a year in delivery costs.

The BBC's Christine Stewart reports
"The cost to the NHS of caring for twins and triplets is estimated at 60 million a year"
See also:

07 Mar 02 | Health
Concern over IVF baby defects
08 Feb 02 | Health
Brain worry over IVF children
16 Jan 02 | Health
IVF 'fastest way to get pregnant'
07 Aug 01 | Health
Action to cut IVF multiple births
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