Couples across the Midlands are still facing a postcode lottery over fertility treatment, a new survey has revealed.

Following Health Secretary John Reid's pledge last year, all primary care trusts were expected to meet yesterday's deadline for offering at least one cycle of NHS-funded IVF to eligible women.

The study by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Infertility and the National Infertility Awareness Campaign highlighted the disparity across the region, with couples waiting between three months and four years for treatment.

Its publication follows The Birmingham Post's campaign calling on every PCT to offer funded fertility treatment for all.

The worst wait for treatment is Rowley Regis and Tipton PCT - part of Sandwell PCTs - where patients wait up to four years for treatment. It currently two cycles of IVF to eligible couples but this is under review.

Across Birmingham's four PCTs, couples can have to wait two years for one NHS-funded cycle of IVF or Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection.

Of the four, Heart of Birmingham PCT is looking at funding a full three cycles, as recommended by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence which believes three cycles gives couples the best chance of conceiving successfully.

Dr Gillian Lockwood, medical director of Midland Fertility Services, in Aldridge, Walsall, said a four-year gap between treatment cycles was unacceptable.

She said: "The trouble, as always, is the issue of resources. I don't want to make PCTs that have historically offered treatment when others haven't feel bad, but a four-year wait in biological terms is far too long.

"Even though Rowley Regis and Tipton offer two cycles of treatment, it is almost negated by the four-year gap as the women get older.

"What we need is for the Department of Health to say implement the NICE guidelines so women under 40 can have one cycle of treatment and here's the money to do it."

Elsewhere in the region, the disparity between the number of cycles offered and the waiting times is just as clear.

In Worcestershire, Redditch and Bromsgrove PCT offers one round of IVF or ICSI but couples must wait between 12 and 18 months.

Patients served by South Warwickshire PCT are already offered one IVF cycle but must wait between three and four months.

In Wolverhampton City PCT, waiting times varied "depending on patient's age" as it offers 40 IVF cycles a year for the population.

Dudley South is one trust which is looking at reducing its current provision of offering up to two cycles of IVF or ICSI to funding one cycle per couple.

Eight PCTs in the region did not respond to the survey and one ? Walsall PCT ? provided its answers confidentially.

Kevin Barron MP, APPGI chairman, said: "The results of this survey show PCTs have been making progress towards meeting this deadline but we are still not achieving the fair and equal access to fertility services on the NHS that couples deserve.

"In looking towards the future, we need to address both the barriers to full implementation of the NICE guideline and the impact of restrictive eligibility criteria."

Clare Brown, NIAC chairwoman, added: "We are concerned that the positive effects of meeting the April deadline will be offset by a greater use of eligibility criteria to restrict access."