The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough clinical commissioning group (CCG) has made the decision to fund one IVF cycle, which would include one fresh embryo transfer and up to two frozen embryo transfers.
Jan Thomas, accountable officer of the CCG, said 'We hope that this decision is welcome news for all of those people who find themselves in need of this service, and those who advocated for its reinstatement.'
After a temporary suspension in 2017, the CCG then took the decision to indefinitely suspend NHS-funded fertility treatment in 2019 for financial reasons (see BioNews 1010).
A report published by the CCG prior to announcing the reinstatement, said: 'Despite, the impact on finances, the growing inequality of provision has strengthened the argument to redress the inequality and reinstate provision of IVF services.'
The CCG estimates it would treat around 170 patients a year under the policy, at an annual cost of £902,000, plus a one-off cost of £2.4m to cover patients that were not treated during the suspension.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that all areas offer three rounds of fully funded IVF, however the availability of NHS-funded IVF services has become a 'postcode lottery', with differences seen across various parts of the UK. In 2018 only 13 percent of CCGs in England offered three cycles. Cambridgeshire, where IVF was originally pioneered, has been one of only three CCGs in the country not to offer NHS-funded IVF – this number has reduced from five in 2019 after two CCGs also reinstated funding in 2020.
Dr Mike Macnamee, CEO of the fertility clinic Bourn Hall in Cambridgeshire, said: 'We look forward to welcoming NHS patients from Cambridgeshire back to our clinic... For the last four years the clinic has been in the very strange position of being able to provide NHS IVF treatment to patients across the East of England – but not to those who live on our doorstep.'
According to the CCG report, a further meeting of the governing body will take place at the beginning of August 2021 to approve the policy and set out the eligibility criteria. If approved, IVF services could be reinstated from 4 August 2021.