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Another NHS trust suspends fertility treatment to cut costs

1 November 2010
Appeared in BioNews 582

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. The trust said it would honour its current IVF waiting list but, from 1 November 2010, no new patients would be added other than in exceptional clinical circumstances. NHS North Yorkshire and York budgets £1 million for up to 250 IVF patients per year and offers one cycle to patients below its sub-fertility criteria.

Dr David Geddes, Medical Director of NHS North Yorkshire and York, said: 'We fully appreciate that infertility is a highly emotive issue but, due to considerable financial pressure, NHS North Yorkshire and York has taken the difficult decision to not routinely commission assisted conception services for the final quarter of the financial year'.

He added:  'This decision affects IVF and other assisted conception procedures. However, it does not affect couples experiencing fertility problems having access to non-surgical treatments, such as drug treatments that may result in successful conception'.

The funding cut has prompted concern from Susan Seenan from the Infertility Network UK. She told BBC Radio York: 'I don't think we can actually express how angry and let down we feel about this decision to suspend funding for IVF treatments'. She added: 'On behalf of patients in Yorkshire, it's appalling that the trust has taken this decision'.

Chief Executive of NHS North Yorkshire and York, Jayne Brown, said: 'We have a statutory obligation to achieve financial balance and our priority is to achieve significant short-term savings whilst maintaining essential services for patients in North Yorkshire and York'. She added: 'We fully appreciate that the decisions we have taken will be unpalatable'.

The trust's current overspend is £17.9 million, which represents around 1.4 percent of its annual budget of £1.3 billion. Without action to reduce costs, this could rise to an estimated £29.4 million and a cash flow shortfall of £33.8 million for the 2010-2011 financial year.

NHS North Yorkshire and York will also lose 60 management posts, cease minor surgery at GP clinics such as vasectomies and colonoscopies, and reduce the amount of money paid to voluntary sector organisations as part of significant money-saving measures.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Exclusive: Services axed as care trust battles huge debt
Yorkshire Post |  22 October 2010
IVF funding halted as jobs cuts predicted
The Northern Echo |  23 October 2010
NHS North Yorkshire and York suspends IVF treatment
BBC News |  22 October 2010
Spending cuts: IVF treatment cancellations 'so wrong'
Mirror |  22 October 2010
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