IVF boom as success rates increase


Last updated at 09:28 07 December 2007

More women than ever are having fertility treatment and success rates are increasing, new figures have revealed.

The number who had IVF jumped by six per cent from 30,861 in 2004 to 32,626 in 2006 and the average sucess rate was 21.6 per cent - up 0.9 per cent from 2004.

But the figures from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority exposed a massive divide between the best and worst clinics.

The top clinic has a 61 per cent success rate for under 35s which is more than twice the national average of 29.6 per cent for this age.

The clinic - the Assisted Reproduction and Gynaecology Centre (ARGC) in London - is run by Britain's most controversial IVF doctor who said last night that he felt "vindicated" after being declared the most successful in the country.

Mohamed Taranissi, who also runs the Reproductive Genetics Institute (RGI) in London, spoke out after the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority revealed he remains at the top of the fertility league tables.

It caps a tumultuous year in which he was forced to go court over suggestions he offered ineffective treatments and his success rates were incorrect.

His clinics were raided after the allegations were broadcast in a BBC Panorama special called 'IVF Undercover' on April 30.

Critics claim his high success rate has been achieved by transferring multiple embryos.

But last month he HFEA issued an apology for its contribution to the programme.

Mr Taranissi, who lives in a £2 million Mayfair apartment and boasts of personal of £38 million insists he has done nothing wrong

On the day of the broadcast, the HFEA carried out raids on both of his clinics - but the legality of the searches was challenged and the High Court ruled they were "unlawful" in June.

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Proceedings have been launched against the BBC in relation to allegations that Mr Taranissi says were inaccurate.

Yesterday's HFEA success rates showed that Mr Taranissi remains at the top of the fertility league tables.

The ARGC had a 60.7 per cent live birth success rate for women under 35 using their own fresh eggs.

The rate for women aged 35 to 37 is 49.3 per cent and 39.3 per cent for those aged 38 to 39.

The RGI figures were 42 per cent for under-35s, 37 per cent for women aged 35 to 37 and 30 per cent for those aged 38 to 39.

Mr Taranissi said he was very pleased by the results.

Asked if he felt vindicated given the events of the past year, he said: "Yes, we have always felt like this because people who come to us see what we do compared with other places they may have been.

"I have never had any doubt in my mind. What happened was distressing and it was affecting how we handled cases.

"But hopefully this has now come to an end and people can see what matters most. Obviously we are all very pleased by the results. It's a team effort, not just the work of one person.

"It's very difficult to put in one or two words why we are the most successful. We have always tried to look at people as individuals rather than apply general policies to everybody.

"We try to monitor everybody every day as well and are open seven days a week. It's very difficult to explain because we don't know how other practices work and we don't want to be seen as saying other people are doing things wrong.

"We have now maintained these results for 12 years - we have hit the top results from 1995 to now."

Under guidelines published in 2004 by the National Institute of Health & Clinical Excellence (NICE), the NHS should provide three cycles of IVF to all couples where the woman is between 23 and 39 and has an identified cause of infertility or has had unexplained infertility for at least three years.

The Government, aware that infertility services couldn't cope with the workload that three cycles per couple would bring, has suggested that each PCT starts by offering couples one cycle, working up to three when possible.

However, some PCTs seem to be using this advice to justify offering only one cycle, while others are applying NICE recommendations strictly as a way to limit access to assisted reproductive technology.

But some women, unhappy with access to NHS IVF treatment and unhappy with its success rates, are turning to private clinics which charge thousands of pounds for a treatment cycle.

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