§ Mr. Dhanda
To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what action he is taking to ensure that infertility treatment and assisted conception techniques are available on the NHS throughout England and Wales; 
(2) if he will make a statement on the National Institute for Clinical Excellence's review of infertility services; 
(3) what representations he has received from West Gloucestershire primary care trust regarding provision of infertility services. 
§ Ms Blears
[holding answer 1 May 2003]The West Gloucestershire primary care trust (PCT) has made no representations to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health about the provision of infertility 763W services. Along with other PCTs, it is awaiting the outcome of the review of infertility services by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE).
In NICE we have a means of bringing order to what has, until now, often been an unfair way for patients to access treatment and care. NICE guidelines will provide recommendations for good practice based on the best available evidence of clinical and cost effectiveness. The guidelines emerging from NICE will reflect the three stages of infertility services, which are primary care, where couples first contact their general practitioner, secondary care for more advanced exploration and treatments, and tertiary centres that provide the high tech treatments such as in-vitro fertilisation.
Overall, however, we are seeking to achieve integrated guidance so that when couples have to be referred on to a further stage in the investigation and treatment of their infertility they can be offered a seamless service.
We expect the guidance produced by NICE to be implemented consistently across the national health service and the uptake of this guidance will be monitored locally and by the Commission for Healthcare Audit and Inspection. Clinicians have to make an independent clinical judgement taking due account of NICE's advice and the strength of evidence which lies behind it.
NICE is expected to deliver the guidelines in November 2003.