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First London CCG axes IVF funding

20 March 2017

By Sarah Pritchard

Appeared in BioNews 893

Croydon has become the first Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) in London to cut funding for all IVF treatment, other than in 'exceptional circumstances'.

The decision was made by the CCG as part of efforts to plug the its £36 million financial deficit, estimating that stopping funding one cycle of IVF for infertile couples will save up to £860,000 per year.

There was strong opposition from the public – 77 percent of people who responded to a public consultation earlier this year preferring the option to make 'no change' to the existing service.

'This is a very emotional subject – and that is shown in the majority objection we have had to this proposal through the consultation,' said Dr Agnelo Fernandes, a Croydon GP and the assistant clinical chair of the CCG. He remarked that the decision was one of the hardest of his professional career.

'However, it is our role to look at the entirety of health needs across the borough and we have a statutory duty to prioritise the limited resources we have available to us,' added Dr Fernandes.

While the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends that women under 40 are offered up to three free cycles of NHS-funded IVF, it is up to individual CCGs to decide how NHS funding is spent in their region.

Until 14 March 2017, women under 39 in Croydon who met certain clinical criteria had been eligible for one free cycle of IVF. Now, the CCG will only consider applications for funded treatment from a GP or consultant whose patient meets 'exceptional circumstances'. In other areas of the country, these circumstances include women who are being treated for cancer and whose treatment or condition is likely to render them infertile.

Susan Seenan, chief executive of the patient fertility charity Fertility Network UK and co-chair of Fertility Fairness, told the Croydon Guardian: 'Facing fertility problems is hard enough without being denied medical help because of where you live.'

The public consultation revealed concerns that the decision would lead to a so-called 'postcode lottery', with couples in neighbouring boroughs still able to receive IVF on the NHS.

Croydon CCG has also acknowledged the possibility of an increased demand on mental health services from individuals and couples who are unable to conceive as a result of the decision.

There are four other boroughs in the country that do not routinely fund IVF: South Norfolk, Mid Essex, North East Essex, and Basildon and Brentwood.

RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE

11 September 2017 - by Dr Mary Yarwood 
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group has removed funding for free IVF treatment, despite being the county where the procedure was first developed 40 years ago...
14 August 2017 - by Dr Kimberley Bryon-Dodd 
Funding cuts by the UK's National Health Service has meant that 13 areas in England have restricted or halted IVF treatment since the start of 2017, according to Fertility Network UK...
07 August 2017 - by Sarah Pritchard 
Clinical Commissioning Groups in the Bristol region are the first to propose restricting NHS-funded IVF treatment to women aged 30 to 35 years...
27 March 2017 - by Rikita Patel 
New patients referred for infertility treatment by their doctors will now have access to three cycles of IVF on the NHS in Scotland...

20 February 2017 - by Sarah Pritchard 
New proposals from Richmond Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) could see NHS-funded IVF treatment available only in 'exceptional circumstances', such as for patients with HIV or cancer...
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 Dr Rachel Brown 
Only two percent of Clinical Commissioning Groups in England follow the national guidance on access to NHS fertility treatment, according to an audit by campaign group Fertility Fairness...
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...

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