A Department of Health group probing inequalities in IVF provision is demanding a national tariff for fertility services.

In an interim report the group set up by public health minister Dawn Primarolo said the tariff should be put in place along with a clear clinical pathway to "provide a more transparent system for treatment costs and payments and help commissioners to drive up quality in the NHS and the private sector".

The group also demanded that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence clarified whether it would review the fertility guideline to remove uncertainty for commissioners.

Consistent commissioning

It said it was considering whether the National Specialised Commissioning Group should be involved in fertility services provision to improve commissioning consistency.

The working party was tasked with advising on barriers to the implementation of NICE guidance and producing a guide for primary care trust commissioners. Ms Primarolo said NICE would review the fertility guideline in 2010-11.

"In the meantime, it is important that those involved in commissioning fertility services have regard to the [current] guideline, including its recommendation that up to three cycles of IVF be offered to eligible couples," she said in a letter to PCT and specialist commissioning group chairs and the National Specialised Commissioning Group.

NHS East of England has revealed it will be one of the first strategic health authorities to implement NICE guidance on IVF in 2009. Couples in the area will be able to have up to three cycles.