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Bury CCG confirms IVF cuts from three cycles to one per couple

1 October 2018
Appeared in BioNews 969

A six-week public consultation in relation to IVF provision in Bury has resulted in the reduction of treatment cycles that couples can receive.

From 1 October, new couples referred for IVF within the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), will be capped to a single NHS-funded cycle – down from three.

The consultation period could have seen free fertility treatment in the area entirely scrapped. 'What came through loud and clear was that there was little support to move to zero funded cycles,' said Stuart North, chief officer for Bury CCG.

He added: 'Bringing the CCG in line with the majority of other areas…the governing body agreed to reduce provision of IVF to one funded cycle for eligible patients from October 2018.'

Bury CCG's governing body board said the move will save up to £170,000 every year.

The UK's Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists noted in its recent scientific impact paper that the availability of government funding for IVF is the single most important factor when considering the rates of multiple pregnancies following treatment (see BioNews 966). Multiple birth pregnancies are considered high risk for both mother and baby compared with singleton pregnancies.

Aileen Feeney, co-chair of Fertility Fairness and chief executive of patient charity Fertility Network noted how this economic tactic may be short sighted 'by increasing the likelihood that more patients will travel abroad for reduced cost fertility treatment – a move that is highly likely to drive up the number of multiple births which are of high risk to mother and babies and incur additional long-term medical costs'.

Feeney also said that a reduction in IVF funding will result in further costs to the NHS through an increase in mental health problems. 'Infertility is a devastating disease which can cause depression, suicidal feelings, relationship breakdown and social isolation; removing the recommended medical help is cruel and economically short-sighted,' she said.

One of the key themes identified at the meeting as noted in the CCG consultation report was: 'The possible impact on mental health should the number of cycles be reduced was a common feedback theme identified.'

The discussion concluded that: 'The CCG will work closely with local mental health providers to ensure that any impact on local services from a policy change is fully understood and responded to.'

The guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends three full cycles of IVF for women under 40 years, and one for women aged 40 to 42.

Sarah Norcross, co-chair of Fertility Fairness and director of the Progress Educational Trust (which publishes BioNews) noted: 'Bury was one of only 11.5 percent of clinical commission groups that funded the nationally recommended three full IVF cycles.’

She added: 'Access to fertility treatment should be dependent on your medical need – and not your postcode or pay packet.'

Free fertility treatment reduced in Bury
ITV News |  27 September 2018
24 June 2019 - by Dr Catherine Hill 
Health minister Jackie Doyle-Price has urged England's 195 clinical commission groups to end the IVF postcode lottery...
11 February 2019 - by Hugo Wolfe 
South Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group has decided to increase IVF funding for eligible couples to receive two cycles of treatment rather than none...
21 January 2019 - by Dr Maria Botcharova 
Oldham's Clinical Commissioning Group has announced that it will reduce the number of IVF cycles offered to new patients from three cycles to one...
5 November 2018 - by Martha Henriques 
Access to IVF in Lancashire and South Cumbria will be reduced to one cycle, the eight NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in the region have announced. Seven of the CCGs previously permitted two cycles...
29 October 2018 - by Jen Willows 
Clinical commissioning groups in England are setting their own criteria – contrary to official guidelines – to ration access to NHS fertility services, according to campaign group Fertility Fairness...
10 September 2018 - by Julianna Photopoulos 
Cuts to fertility treatments in the UK are putting women at higher risk of having multiple pregnancies, and increasing costs to the NHS, according to a new report...
29 May 2018 - by Chandni Patel 
A Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) in the north of England is considering cutting funded IVF cycles to save money...
19 March 2018 - by Chandni Patel 
The Bath and North East Somerset clinical commissioning group (CCG) has said that it will restrict IVF access to couples where the male partner has a BMI of less than 30...
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