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IVF funding: Bedfordshire 1 – Brentwood 0

28 November 2016

By Ari Haque

Appeared in BioNews 879

Basildon and Brentwood CCG has announced that it will no longer provide fertility treatment including IVF on the NHS to new patients.

Patients who have already been referred for IVF will receive one cycle of treatment, instead of the three that are currently offered.

The CCG decided to stop offering fertility treatment as part of a wider package of cuts to save £14 million. A public consultation on the proposal revealed that 42 percent of respondents were in favour of continued funding for NHS patients.

Elsewhere, Bedfordshire CCG has announced that it will continue to provide one cycle of IVF treatment to eligible patients after conducting a public consultation that attracted more than 1000 responses.

Dr Alvin Low, clinical chair of Bedfordshire CCG and clinical lead for the consultation, said: 'At Bedfordshire CCG we always put the voice of clinicians and patients at the heart of what we do.'

Sarah Norcross, co-chair of campaign group Fertility Fairness and director of the Progress Educational Trust, which publishes BioNews, praised Bedfordshire CCG's decision and approach. 'It is heartening to hear that health bosses in Bedfordshire have listened to the views of patients and the public and have committed to continuing to fund NHS fertility services,' she said.

Conversely, Susan Seenan, also of Fertility Fairness, described Basildon and Brentwood CCG's decision as 'cruel and unethical'. She said that infertility can be a 'devastating, shattering experience' for many.

'Essex is now officially the worse place to live in England if you hope to access NHS fertility services – in the last two years three local groups have decommissioned NHS fertility services,' said Seenan.

Norcross warned there may also be risks from not funding fertility treatment. 'We are reassured to see that Bedfordshire [CCG] has recognised the benefits of providing a fertility service and has sensibly chosen to avoid the potential health risks and economic consequences of decommissioning NHS IVF,' she said.

Bedfordshire CCG's consultation paper outlines the risk of double or multiple embryo transfers from self-funded fertility treatment, warning that 'there is strong evidence to say that double-embryo transfer would result in more multiple births and greater health complications for mother and twins/multiples, with associated healthcare costs'.

Norcross also emphasised that Basildon and Brentwood CCG's decision will effectively deny access to fertility treatment for many people in the area. 'It is appalling that only the well off in Basildon and Brentwood will be able to access fertility treatment,' she said.

'Fertility services should be available for everyone eligible for treatment; not just the wealthy. Fertility problems affect rich and poor alike and this is a clear example of health inequality in practice.'

She added: 'The Prime Minister has said that she wants a country that works for everyone – here we have a county, Essex, which is working against people with a medical condition.'

Speaking in July, John Leslie of Basildon and Brentwood CCG said on the proposals to cut services: 'We have a legal duty to live within our means.'

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Fertility Network UK (press release) | 24 November 2016
 
Luton Today | 25 November 2016
 
Echo | 24 November 2016
 
Fertility Network UK (press release) | 24 November 2016
 
Huffington Post (blog) | 24 November 2016
 

RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE

06 November 2017 - by Sarah Norcross 
Sarah Norcross, Director of the Progress Educational Trust and Co-Chair of the campaigning organisation Fertility Fairness, speaks on TV and radio about worsening access to publicly funded IVF...
13 February 2017 - by Rikita Patel 
The Wirral CCG has announced that it is cutting the provision of NHS-funded IVF cycles from three to two, in an attempt to reduce its financial deficit...
30 January 2017 - by Georgia Everett 
The Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group has abandoned plans to cut all funding for IVF treatment, following a huge public response...
23 January 2017 - by Dr Rachel Brown 
Steve McCabe MP has led a parliamentary debate on the variable provision of fertility treatments across the UK, calling for a revision to how fertility services are funded and provided...
12 December 2016 - by Richard Clothier 
How the experience of being denied IVF on the NHS turned one man into a campaigner determined to improve the situation for the thousands of other infertile people...

26 September 2016 - by Lone Hørlyck 
Thirteen Clinical Commissioning Groups are considering making cuts to IVF funding, potentially removing the procedure on the NHS in some areas...
18 July 2016 - by Antony Blackburn-Starza 
Basildon and Brentwood CCG is proposing to cut its provision of fertility treatment for new and existing patients...
20 June 2016 - by Stephen Harbottle 
Since its launch in 1948, the NHS has become the world's largest publicly funded health service and a beacon of what is possible to the rest of the world. Unless, it seems, you are finding it hard to conceive...
18 April 2016 - by Dr Mary Yarwood 
Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group is consulting the public on whether to remove all funding for IVF treatment, apart from for special medical exceptions...
28 February 2016 - by Rikita Patel 
Somerset CCG has announced that its provision of NHS-funded IVF will be reduced from two cycles to one...

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