An online survey of more than 300 fertility patients carried out for National Infertility Day has found that 76% would consider travelling overseas for their treatment. Thirty years after the first IVF baby was born in the UK, the cost of fertility treatment here plus long waiting lists have proved the decisive factor when it comes to patients choosing to go abroad instead.
There's been growing interest in "fertility tourism", but this survey is the first detailed research into the subject. It shows that 88% of those who had had treatment abroad were happy with the service they received, and that's not just down to the cost and shorter waiting lists. High success rates, the attitude of staff and the atmosphere of clinics and the facilities have all impressed patients from the UK when they travel for treatment.
Shortages of donor eggs and sperm in the UK have been sending many overseas, but the survey results suggest that others who don't need to use donor eggs or sperm are now joining the fertility exodus.
Of the 24% of the patients surveyed who said they wouldn't consider going abroad most were concerned about standards in clinics abroad, lack of regulation and language problems.
Clare Brown, Chief Executive of Infertility Network UK, said: "If the NHS funded three full cycles of treatment as recommended by NICE, many couples would not be forced to consider going abroad for treatment. It is absolutely vital that anyone considering travelling abroad should do some thorough research beforehand as the rules and regulations abroad can be totally different from that in the UK. I do hope though that clinics in the UK take into account the findings of this survey and learn from the good experiences many couples have had at clinics abroad."
The results of the survey will be presented at a conference for patients as part of National Infertility Day on 19 July in central London
"I am not so sure that I would agree with the survey. Of course patients are entitled to seek treatment abroad for a number of illnesses including infertility. Until the survey can be verified the answers are subjective. Outcomes are different if correct then perhaps UK can learn from this." - V Henry, London