The decision was made in a unanimous vote by the CCG's governing body on 17 January, in a bid to reduce costs by an estimated £147,500 a year.
The Oldham Times reported that Majid Hussain, chairman of CCG Oldham, told the governing body meeting: 'If we don't cut this then something else is going to be cut. The bottom line is we've still got to save this amount of money from somewhere.'
The decision is of particular note for Oldham because in 1978 it was the birthplace of the world's first IVF baby, Louise Brown.
The vote followed a public consultation on the IVF service in Oldham, in which almost 75 percent of the 250 respondents preferred to keep the offer of three cycles.
'It became very clear to us that there was no support for removing the service completely,' Dr John Patterson, the chief clinical officer of NHS Oldham CCG, told the meeting. 'However, by moving to fund one cycle we can continue to make sure this valuable treatment is available to all Oldham couples.'
Dr Patterson added that a single cycle continues to offer multiple chances to conceive. 'One cycle can mean five to eight chances to have a baby, not one chance because all those eggs can be used in that one funded cycle,' said Dr Patterson.
In 2004, the NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) recommended that women under the age of 40 who have been trying to conceive for more than two years should be offered three cycles of IVF. However, a study by the campaign group Fertility Fairness found that 12 percent of CCGs offered only one cycle in 2017 – halved from 24 percent in 2013.
Representatives at the meeting noted that certain patients in Oldham may still be able to receive three cycles of treatment through an individual application for funding with an Effective Use of Resources (EUR) application.
Last year nearby Bury CCG also cut IVF provision from three cycles to one (see BioNews 969), while eight CCGs across Lancashire and South Cumbria reduced their services to one cycle (see BioNews 974).