WOMEN struggling to conceive are being driven abroad for private fertility treatment with the cost of IVF in the UK as much as double what patients can pay in Europe.

A survey of 241 people who have either undergone fertility treatment or were considering it found that more than 93 per cent would consider going abroad and those that have already received a fertility procedure overseas would go back again. The most common reason for seeking treatment abroad was to save money with patients in Spain paying as much as 50 per cent less than they do in the UK, although some respondents believed the success rates were higher and others cited factors such as access to anonymous egg donors as an attraction.

The research was carried out by Edinburgh-based Fertility Clinics Abroad.

Spain was the most popular destination, followed by Greece, the Czech Republic and Cyprus but some UK residents said they were considering treatment in Tunisia, Nigeria and South Africa.

IVF using your own eggs was the most sought after treatment and people were willing to pay between £1000 and £5000 for the treatment. In the UK, private IVF can often exceed £10,000.

Access to fertility treatment on the NHS varies across the UK, but free provision is highest in Scotland where women under 40 can access three NHS-funded IVF cycles. Some women aged between 40 and 42 can be also offered one treatment cycle.

In Wales, women under 40 are entitled to two rounds of IVF on the NHS while in Northern Ireland only one partial cycle is offered. In England, provision varies by region with most areas offering just one IVF cycle.

The survey revealed that most respondents (62 per cent) were using their life savings to bankroll private fertility treatment abroad. Others were re-mortgaging their houses or selling personal belongings. Other popular ways to fund treatment were to ask for help from family and friends, securing banks loans, starting a crowd funding campaign or using credit cards.

Susan Seenan, chief executive of Fertility Network UK said: “It is clear that fertility patients’ inability to access NHS IVF because of substantial cuts to services, coupled with the high cost of private fertility treatment in the UK, are the key drivers for seeking fertility treatment abroad and, if neither of these change, fertility tourism is likely to increase in popularity.”