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Harrow PCT reverses decision to suspend IVF

28 February 2011
Appeared in BioNews 597

Harrow 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.

On 14 December, Harrow PCT made an initial recommendation to suspend all assisted conception treatment until March 2012 due to financial constraints, in a move estimated to result in savings of approximately £400,000.

The National Infertility Awareness Campaign (NIAC) was 'outraged' by the proposal and wrote to the PCT's chair raising its concerns. After a board meeting on 11 January, Harrow PCT discarded its initial proposal and instead decided to adopt the NHS London North West Sector policy. This means that IVF treatment will continue as before in Harrow and patients will be entitled to one IVF cycle of one fresh and one frozen blastocyst.

Responding to concerns of a 'postcode lottery', the unified policy seeks to ensure consistency across the area. It falls short, however, of the 2004 National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines, which state that up to three cycles of IVF should be offered on the NHS to eligible couples where the woman is aged between 23 and 39 years old. The guidelines are currently under review, with final revisions expected in 2012.

In a letter seen by BioNews, Anne Milton, the Public Health Minister, said: 'I am aware that many PCTs have made successful progress in implementing the existing NICE recommendations. If these PCTs can achieve that then it should be within the reach of others to do the same'.

Many PCTs across the country have suspended the provision of NHS fertility treatment, citing financial constraints as the motive.

31 October 2011 - by Rosemary Paxman 
An investigation by the Daily Telegraph has found that a fifth of PCTs are offering single women IVF on 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...
14 February 2011 - by Ayesha Ahmad 
Public health minister Anne Milton has said NHS Primary Care Trust's should follow existing guidelines and offer three cycles of IVF to eligible couples....
17 January 2011 - by Chris Chatterton 
Over the last few months BioNews has covered the developing story that a number of PCTs across England have suspended their fertility services, citing financial constraints as a prominent factor....
13 December 2010 - by Nishat Hyder 
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....
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