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29-08-2012 | General practice | Article

GPs ‘lack knowledge’ about infertility

Abstract

National Infertility Awareness Campaign

medwireNews: Nearly half of patients say that their GP is insufficiently informed about fertility issues, show the results of a survey by the National Infertility Awareness Campaign (NIAC).

The survey was answered by 456 respondents, 95% of whom were women. While 78% said that their GP was sympathetic and helpful, 48.1% reported that their GP didn't appear knowledgeable about infertility and the services available. Overall, 38% were unable to access fertility treatment through the NHS.

Around four-fifths of patients said fertility had impacted on their personal or professional life, with a third of respondents seeking help from other NHS services, such as counselling and treatment for depression.

Dr Stephen Davies, spokesman for the British Fertility Society, told GP News he was not surprised by the findings: "In amongst the myriad of clinical conditions that GPs are expected to keep abreast of infertility is definitely on the list of Cinderella subjects."

He said that funding restrictions by PCTs were a source of immense heartache that were likely to continue. "The biggest ongoing issue is the disparity in funding according to post code. This is no better now than in 2004 when initial NICE guidelines came out to try and eradicate this."

The NIAC says that the findings raise concerns over the preparedness of GPs to take on commissioning of infertility treatment next April. It says that as generalists by nature, GPs will require additional training to effectively commission services as specialised as fertility treatments.

However, the pressure group remains optimistic. "For many couples seeking fertility treatment on the NHS, time really is of the essence. The transition phase to GP commissioning presents us with an opportunity to finally get this right," the report concludes.

medwireNews (www.medwire-news.md) is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Kirsty Oswald