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King's College London - Health: More than a medical matter

West Kent PCT suspends IVF funding

08 November 2010

By Ken Hanscombe

Appeared in BioNews 583

NHS West Kent PCT has suspended IVF treatments considered non-urgent until April 2011. The measure is aimed at avoiding a projected overspend of approximately £40m on the PCT's budget of £1.013 billion, within the first six months of the coming year.

Marion Dinwoodie, NHS West Kent's Chief Executive said: 'No-one with a compelling clinical need for treatment this year will miss out, but we are asking GPs to consider if referrals for treatment like gender reassignment or IVF can be delayed until next year'.

On the potential impact of the PCT's decision, fertility specialist Dr Michael Rimington commented: 'It will be very worrying because these couples will already have been trying for pregnancy for some time and then plucked up the courage to see their family doctor to consider assessment and referral, and then they will be told that they cannot be referred at this stage'.

As well as the decision to suspend non-urgent IVF treatments, NHS West Kent PCT has also asked GPs to defer referrals for non-urgent surgical procedures in cases of obesity and gender reassignment, and will begin prescribing a cheaper drug for age-related macular degeneration.

Chairman of the British Medical Association's consultative committee, Dr Mark Porter said: 'Our concern is that we are seeing financial matters being more important than clinical matters in the NHS'.

West Kent PCT is not the first to place restrictions on what they consider non-urgent procedures. Recently, NHS Warwickshire announced that no IVF treatments, orthopaedic surgery, and other procedures considered low priority, would go ahead without clearance from management. 'This is not about medical need, this is really about saving money', said Dr Porter.

The Guardian last month reported Nigel Edwards of the NHS Confederation as saying: 'Just shutting a service for a month or two is a one-off saving. I have had a series of discussions with four or five trusts now where they are thinking of a significant reshaping of the system'.

The NHS West Kent PCT's decision is to be reviewed in April 2011.


BBC News | 04 November 2010
Guardian | 17 October 2010


04 April 2011 - by Marianne Neary 
Couples struggling to conceive face more disappointment as NHS North Yorkshire and York joins a growing number of trusts restricting access to IVF after it decided to suspend funding for assisted conception services, save for those who demonstrate a 'clinical exception'.... [Read More]
14 March 2011 - by Sujatha Jayakody 
West Cheshire will decide this month whether to become the latest region to suspend NHS-funded IVF treatment. The West Cheshire Health Consortium, which is made up of 38 GP practices, claims it needs to cut IVF to deliver healthcare to its aging population... [Read More]
07 February 2011 - by Marianne Neary 
A couple from Dorset expecting to receive two cycles of IVF on the NHS has spoke out against the trust after being told they could have access to only one.... [Read More]
20 December 2010 - by Kyrillos Georgiadis 
West Sussex NHS trust is the latest NHS trust to suspend funding of fertility treatment as managers try to cut spending by 50 million. Now patients across the county face months of delays for treatment... [Read More]
13 December 2010 - by Nishat Hyder 
UK health minister Andrew Lansley has expressed concern over the temporary suspension of IVF treatment by several NHS Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) across the country due to financial strain.... [Read More]

01 November 2010 - by Julianna Photopoulos 
NHS North Yorkshire and York is to suspend IVF procedures in the final quarter of this financial year as part of measures to reduce costs.... [Read More]
06 September 2010 - by Sarah Guy 
Data made available under the Freedom of Information Act have revealed that in some areas of the UK, primary care trusts (PCTs) have placed a blanket ban on requests for IVF treatment because of depleted resources... [Read More]
23 August 2010 - by Gozde Zorlu 
Funding of IVF treatment has been suspended by Warrington Primary Care Trust (PCT) following a review to assess whether the service matched agreed health priorities and offered the best value for money. Warrington is the only PCT in the North West, of which there are 24, to cut the funding of IVF, reports say... [Read More]
09 August 2010 - by Gozde Zorlu 
Isle of Man couples wishing to undergo IVF will only have funds to complete one cycle of treatment following a review of fertility care, the Manx government has announced... [Read More]

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