The number of unpaid carers in England and Wales has risen to 5.8 million

Unpaid carers rise to 5.8 million

The number of unpaid carers in England and Wales has risen to 5.8 million, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

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Access to IVF treatment currently 'very unfair'

Today's new fertility treatment guidelines should make three IVF cycles available to couples unable to conceive as standard, across the NHS, thus ending the so-called 'postcode lottery'.

Professor Tim Child from the Oxford Fertility Centre said the new recommendations, if implemented properly by NHS providers, will improve access to treatment and make it more fair.

Read: New IVF guidelines offer hope to childless couples

Women 'need all the help they can get' with infertility

More couples struggling to conceive are to get IVF under new guidelines finalised today.

The age at which women can have treatment on the NHS will be raised from the current age limit of 39 to 42.

Mandy Parry spent £60,000 to have her daughter Violet, after seven cycles of IVF.

She told Daybreak that the experience of infertility is "so devastating", women needed all the help they can get.

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'Too many people' still denied infertility treatment

The National Infertility Awareness Campaign warned that as NICE guidelines are not mandatory, fears still remained over local implementation.

By updating the fertility guideline and extending the range of people it is recommending receive treatment, NICE clearly understands the impact which infertility has on people.

And we must be clear that infertility is a medical condition that causes significant distress for those trying to have a baby and has a devastating impact on people's lives.

The current 'postcode lottery' approach to the treatment of infertility here has gone on for far too long and it is vital that the Government supports the measures in the updated guideline and communicates the need to implement them to those who commission fertility services in the NHS.

We know the current system leaves many people unable to access NHS treatment and we need reassurance about the future of NHS fertility treatment as we move towards GP commissioning in 2013.

– Clare Lewis-Jones, Chairwoman of National Infertility Awareness Campaign

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New IVF guidelines to include same-sex couples

The guidelines from NICE also recommend the following:

  • IVF treatment for eligible women who have been unable to conceive after two years of regular intercourse - one year earlier than previously recommended
  • Women who have been having artificial insemination, which can include same-sex couples
  • Women aged 40-42 who have not conceived after two years of regular unprotected intercourse or 12 cycles of artificial insemination should be offered one full cycle of IVF, if they have never previously had IVF treatment
  • Where women are under 40, and have not conceived after two years of regular intercourse or 12 cycles of artificial insemination, three cycles of IVF should be offered

Read what is embryo freezing and storage?

Women over 40 'should get IVF on the NHS'

The health watchdog NICE says women between the ages of 40 and 42 should be offered IVF on the NHS in England and Wales if they are having fertility problems. Previously, NICE did not recommend IVF for women older than 39.

Embryos being placed onto a CryoLeaf ready for instant freezing
Embryos being placed onto a CryoLeaf ready for instant freezing Credit: Press Association

NICE says is has been able to change its guidance because of a number of key medical advances.

The guidance does not apply to Northern Ireland or Scotland.

Lamb: Relatives should have 'complete confidence in care'

Care and support minister Norman Lamb has said it is "vital for relatives to have complete confidence in care" when loved ones are being treated in hospital or looked after in care homes.

Experts agree the Liverpool Care Pathway, if applied properly, can help patients die a dignified and pain-free death, but, as we have seen, there have been too many unacceptable cases where patients or their families were ignored or not properly involved in decisions.

There have also been reports of food and fluids being denied to people inappropriately.

It is vital for relatives to have complete confidence in the care that their loved ones are receiving. This is why we want to hear from people with experience of the LCP, where it met the high standards expected and where things went wrong.

I urge people to get in touch to share their experiences, so we can ensure that lessons are learned and things put right.

Review invites families to share 'end-of-life' experiences

Reports suggest that doctors are establishing "death lists" of patients to be put on the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP), which allows family members who have witnessed loved ones undergo a controversial end-of-life regime to share their experiences with health officials.

Articles also claim that hospitals might be employing the method to cut costs and save bed spaces.

But medics have argued that the pathway has "transformed" end-of-life care, saying it can offer peaceful, pain-free deaths when used properly.

The review is being led by Baroness Neuberger.

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