COUPLES looking to have a baby can now get extra fertility treatment funded by the NHS. New rules introduced in the East of England on Friday will mean that eligible couples in Cambridgeshire can now get three cycles of IVF treatment paid for by the NHS

COUPLES looking to have a baby can now get extra fertility treatment funded by the NHS.

New rules introduced in the East of England on Friday will mean that eligible couples in Cambridgeshire can now get three cycles of IVF treatment paid for by the NHS, instead of one.

The move will save some couples thousands of pounds - one cycle of IVF treatment can cost up to £8,000.

The move puts the East of England ahead of the rest of the country by implementing the three-cycle rule recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence in 2004.

The new policy also allows couples to choose between five clinics, including Bourn Hall in Cambridge - the world's first IVF clinic founded by the pioneers of IVF, Patrick Steptoe and Professor Robert Edwards.

Trevor Myers, director of the East of England specialised commissioning group, said: "This new policy is the result of an extremely successful collaboration of clinical experts, patients and NHS managers that will ensure a much fairer approach across the region.

"We are very grateful for the help of Infertility Network UK, which has represented patients in this work."

About 70 per cent of couples conceive naturally within 18 months of trying for a baby, 90 per cent conceive after two years.

Couples who have made lifestyle changes and do not conceive, or have a diagnosed cause of infertility, can seek IVF treatment through their GP.