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UK health minister repeats IVF funding cut concerns

13 December 2010
Appeared in BioNews 588

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.

Mr Lansley responded to questions on the adequacy of the provision of IVF raised in Parliament last week by Gareth Johnson, Conservative MP for Dartford. Mr Lansley stated: 'I am aware that a small number of PCTs with historical funding problems have temporarily suspended local NHS provision of IVF services. I have already expressed my concerns about that approach'.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends eligible patients should be entitled to three cycles of IVF treatment on the NHS. Mr Lansley said: 'I expect all PCTs to have regard to the current NICE guidance and to recognise fully the significant distress and impact that infertility has on people's lives'.

Mr Lansley, former vice-chair of the all-party group on infertility established to raise awareness of fertility issues in Parliament, shared Mr Johnson's disappointment that PCTs continue to fall short of the NICE guidelines - especially given that British IVF pioneer Professor Robert Edwards was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine this year. 'I'm sure that Professor Edwards would be dismayed that some PCTs have suspended their IVF provision', said Mr Johnson, urging them to reconsider decisions to suspend IVF treatment.

Labour MP Kevin Barron questioned who would take responsibility for the provision of infertility services under the proposed National Commissioning Board, which would oversee how healthcare practices are assigned for allocation by the GP consortia. Although Mr Lansley gave no firm answer, he emphasised the importance of a 'clinically-led decision' in such matters, and the need to minimise 'political interference'.


Hansard - Commons 7th December 2010
Hansard |  7 December 2010
Lansley concerned by IVF suspension
The Press Association |  8 December 2010
13 June 2011 - by Toby Stead 
A recent report by UK politicians has found widespread inconsistencies in the provision of fertility treatment by the NHS...
23 May 2011 - by Kyrillos Georgiadis 
NHS South West Essex has reinstated funding for IVF seven months after suspending the service. The move comes after the PCT reduced running costs by £400,000 last year to financially break even...
23 May 2011 - by Dr Lux Fatimathas 
UK military personnel who have sustained injuries affecting their fertility will receive three free cycles of IVF treatment on the NHS. This forms part of the Military Covenant, which is soon to be brought into law...
18 April 2011 - by Kyrillos Georgiadis 
The Scottish Conservatives have revealed that one of their main priorities is improving access to fertility treatment on Scotland's NHS. The party plans to set up a five million fund to help patients seeking treatment should they be elected into power...
28 February 2011 - by Leo Perfect 
Harrow Primary Care Trust (PCT) has reversed its decision to suspend IVF treatment and has adopted a unified policy across neighbouring PCTs in North West London to offer one full cycle of IVF to eligible patients....
6 December 2010 - by Kyrillos Georgiadis 
Stockport NHS Trust has announced it is to stop funding IVF treatment for new patients. The Primary Care Trust (PCT), which is attempting to implement spending cuts totalling £21 million, will allow patients currently on its IVF waiting list to receive one cycle of treatment...
8 November 2010 - by Ken Hanscombe 
NHS West Kent Primary Care Trust (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...
1 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....
27 September 2010 - by Dr Vivienne Raper 
Health secretary Andrew Lansley has warned Bury Primary Care Trust (PCT) over plans to suspend IVF treatment as a cost-cutting measure, the Manchester Evening News reports. The trust aimed to stem a £1.3 million per month overspend by 'temporarily suspending' routine IVF treatment for new patients below a certain age. Patients already having treatment would continue to receive it...
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